Getting Your GRE Scores

Letter of RecommendationMost students who plan to take the GRE have a number of questions about the exam. One of the most common questions is, “When will I receive my test scores?” Also, students want to know how to get GRE scores sent to the schools they are applying to. Other students want to find out about the sections and the scoring system on the GRE. Let’s look at the answers to these questions, along with others related to this important exam.

Test Sections and Scoring on the GRE
Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing are the three sections on the GRE. Questions in the Verbal Reasoning section measure a student’s skills in understanding and evaluating written material. The Quantitative Reasoning section contains geometry, algebra, arithmetic, and other basic math problems. The Analytical Writing section requires students to write an issue essay as well as an argument essay. These essays reveal a student’s critical thinking skills and ability to write in a clear, organized way.

Students can score from 130 to 170 points on the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. Scores for both of these sections are in one-point increments. Alternatively, students can earn from zero to six points on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE. This section is scored in half-point increments.

Getting GRE Scores
Before leaving the testing location, students who take the computer-delivered GRE have the opportunity to see their unofficial scores for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. However, Analytical Writing scores are not available on test day – 10 to 15 days after test day, students can find out their official scores via the account they opened to register for the GRE. Alternatively, those who take the paper-delivered version of the GRE must wait six weeks before having access to their official test scores.

Students who prepare for the GRE with Veritas Prep are very likely to be happy with their test scores. Our students receive instruction from professional tutors who have taken the GRE with great success! Our instructors can offer students inside tips to help them conquer every test question. We also review practice test results with students so they can study in an efficient, logical way. At Veritas Prep, we combine first-rate instruction with excellent study resources to give our students the tools they need to get GRE scores they can be proud of.

Sending GRE Scores to Schools
Students headed to graduate school know the importance of getting GRE scores to the schools they want to apply to. A student who takes the computer-delivered version of the GRE will have their scores sent out to schools approximately 10 to 15 days after the testing date. Students who take the traditional paper version of the GRE will have their test scores sent to schools about six weeks after taking the test. All students receive a notification when their test scores have been sent out to the schools on their list.

How to Get GRE Scores Sent to Additional Schools
Students who register to take the exam can get GRE scores sent to as many as four schools – this is included in the test fee. But what if a student wants to send scores to more than four schools? Students can go online to order additional score reports or arrange for them via fax or mail. There is a fee for each additional score report.

Information Displayed on a Score Report
There are several pieces of information on a student’s score report. A student’s name and other basic contact information are on the report, as well as when the person took the GRE. A student’s GRE score and percentile rank are also on their score report. Score reports sent to schools feature a student’s contact information, test date, intended focus of study, GRE scores, and percentile rank.

At Veritas Prep, we offer a variety of tutoring options for the GRE so you can be satisfied with your score. We have both online and in-person courses available so students can choose the best study option for them. Our students receive the instruction and encouragement they need to earn their best possible score on the GRE!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

How to Create a Breakthrough Business School Application Resume

InterviewProspective MBA students spend a lot of time on a variety of things to prepare their application packages. Some application prep – like studying for the GMAT or drafting responses for essay questions – takes up a disproportionate amount of time for the typical candidate. However, the application component most admissions committee reps look at first is, in fact, the professional resume.

Wait, so the GMAT score you have spent hours studying to achieve and your meticulously crafted essays that are now on draft #89 from revisions aren’t looked at right away, but that resume that has gone unedited since you last interviewed for your most recent job is?

Your professional resume represents one of the most important aspects of your candidacy, and is your first opportunity to make a positive impression on the Admissions Committee. Let’s explore a few ways you can create a breakthrough resume for your business school application:

Stick to a Clear Structure:
Having a clean and consistent structure is probably the first thing a reviewer will notice after opening your resume, so make sure whatever format you use is consistent and readable. Avoid over-packing your resume and leaving no white space. Also, do not treat your resume like a book report – this document should not exceed one page, so exercise the skill of brevity and keep it concise, including only the most relevant bullets.

Share Accomplishments, Not Tasks:
Your resume is not your job description! The Admissions Committee is looking to learn what you have accomplished in your career, so avoid simply highlighting your day-to-day tasks. MBA programs want to create classes of accomplished students who can leverage their programs to take the next step in their career trajectory. If you only communicate the tasks that were outlined when you first took on your role, then this makes your case for admission to these classes much less compelling.

Again, do not feel like you need to include everything you have ever done over the course of your career in your resume. Focus on the accomplishments that resonate the most and that you have most directly been a part of, keeping in mind to highlight important interpersonal skills like leadership and teamwork in your descriptions.

Show Your Impact:
The MBA application is all about impact, and your resume is one of the best opportunities you have to show this. You should aim to make sure each bullet in your resume holds some form of significance.

Of course, the more quantifiable the results of your impact, the better, but do not feel you have to limit your resume to only numbers. Qualitative influence is also important to mention, and will be well received by the Admissions Committee if framed properly. For some, quantifying the specifics of their resume can be challenging – if you fall into this bucket, then using reasonable estimates of your impact can also work, and will provide the Admissions Committee with greater context of your experiences than simply avoiding this all together.

Don’t treat your business school application resume as an afterthought; make sure you include the elements above to maximize your chances for admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: A GMAT Quant Question That Troubles Many!

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWhat determines whether or not a question can be considered a GMAT question? We know that GMAT questions that are based on seemingly basic concepts can be camouflaged such that they may “appear” to be very hard. Is it true that a question requiring a lot of intricate calculations will not be tested in GMAT? Yes, however it is certainly possible that a question may “appear” to involve a lot of calculations, but can actually be solved without any!

In the same way, it is possible that a question may appear to be testing very obscure concepts, while it is really solvable by using only basic ones.

This happens with one of our own practice questions – we have often heard students exclaim that this problem isn’t relevant to the GMAT since it “tests an obscure number property”. It is a question that troubles many people, so we decided to tackle it in today’s post.

We can easily solve this problem with just some algebraic manipulation, without needing to know any obscure properties! Let’s take a look:

† and ¥ represent non-zero digits, and (†¥)² – (¥†)² is a perfect square. What is that perfect square?

(A) 121
(B) 361
(C) 576
(D) 961
(E) 1,089

The symbols † and ¥ are confusing to work with, so the first thing we will do is replace them with the variables A and B.

The question then becomes: A and B represent non-zero digits, and (AB)² – (BA)² is a perfect square. What is that perfect square?

As I mentioned before, we have heard students complain that this question isn’t relevant to the GMAT because it “uses an obscure number property”.  Now here’s the thing – most advanced number property questions CAN be solved in a jiffy using some obscure number property such as, “If you multiply a positive integer by its 22nd multiple, the product will be divisible by …” etc. However, those questions are not actually about recalling these so-called “properties” – they are about figuring out the properties using some generic technique, such as pattern recognition.

For this question, the complaint is often that is that the question tests the property, “(x + y)*(x – y) (where x and y are two digit mirror image positive integers) is a multiple of 11 and 9.” It doesn’t! Here is how we should solve this problem, instead:

Given the term (AB)^2, where A and B are digits, how will you square this while keeping the variables A and B?

Let’s convert (AB)^2 to (10A + B)^2, because A is simply the placeholder for the tens digit of the number. If you are not sure about this, consider the following:

58 = 50 + 8 = 10*5 + 8
27 = 20 + 7 = 10*2 + 7
…etc.

Along those same lines:

AB = 10A + B
BA = 10B + A

Going back to our original question:

(AB)^2 – (BA)^2
= (10A + B)^2 – (10B + A)^2
= (10A)^2 + B^2 + 2*10A*B – (10B)^2 – A^2 – 2*10B*A
= 99A^2 – 99B^2
= 9*11*(A^2 – B^2)

We know now that the expression is a multiple of 9 and 11. We would not have known this beforehand. Now we’ll just use the answer choices to figure out the solution. Only 1,089 is a multiple of both 9 and 11, so the answer must be E.

We hope you see that this question is not as hard as it seems. Don’t get bogged down by unknown symbols – just focus on the next logical step at each stage of the problem.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: As You Debate Over Answer Choices… Just Answer The Freaking Question!

GMAT Tip of the WeekIf you’re like many – to the dismay of the NFL and the advertising industry – you’re planning to watch another presidential debate this coming Sunday. And just like Trump-Clinton I and Pence-Kaine earlier this week, this debate will provide plenty of opportunities to be annoyed, frustrated, and disappointed…but it will also provide an ever-important lesson about the GMAT.

It’s no surprise that candidate approval ratings are low for the same reason that far too many GMAT scores are lower than candidates would hope. Why?

People don’t directly answer the question.

This is incredibly common in the debates, where the poor moderators are helpless against the talking points and stump speeches of the candidates. The public then suffers because people cannot get direct answers to the questions that matter. This is also very common on the GMAT, where students will invest the time in critical thought and calculation, and then levy an answer that just doesn’t hit the mark. Consider the example:

Donald has $520,000 in campaign money available to spend on advertising for the month of October, and his advisers are telling him that he should spend a minimum of $360,000 in the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. If he plans to spend the minimum amount in battleground states to appease his advisers, plus impress his friends by a big ad spend specific to New York City (and then he will skip advertising in the rest of the country), how much money will he have remaining if he wants 20% of his ad spend to take place in New York City?

(A) $45,000
(B) $52,000
(C) $70,000
(D) $90,000
(E) $104,000

As people begin to calculate, it’s common to try to determine all of the facets of Donald’s ad spend. If he’s spending only the $360,000 in battleground states plus the 20% he’ll spend in New York City, then $360,000 will represent 80% of his total ad spend. If $360,000 = 0.8(Total), then the total will be $450,000. That means that he’ll spend $90,000 in New York City. Which is answer choice D…but that’s not the question!

The question asked for how much of his campaign money would be left over, so the calculation you need to focus on is the $520,000 he started with minus the $450,000 he spent for a total of $70,000, answer choice C. And in a larger context, you can learn a major lesson from Wharton’s most famous alumnus: it’s not enough for your answer to be related to the question. On the GMAT, you must answer the question directly! So make sure that you:

  1. Double check which portion of a word problem the question asked for. Don’t be relieved when your algebra spits out “a” number. Make sure it’s “the” number.
  2. Be careful with Strengthen/Weaken Critical Reasoning problems. A well-written Strengthen problem will likely have a good Weaken answer choice, and vice-versa.
  3. In algebra problems, make sure to identify the proper variable (or combination of variables if they ask, for example “What is 6x – y?”).
  4. With Data Sufficiency problems, pay attention to the exact values being asked for. One of the most common mistakes that people make is saying that a statement is insufficient because they’re looking to fill in all variables, when actually it is sufficient to answer the exact combination that the test asked for.

As you watch the debate this weekend, notice (How could you not?) how absurd it is that the candidates just about never directly answer the question…and then vow to not make the same mistake on your GMAT exam.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

How to Omit Unnecessary Words in Your MBA Application Essays

writing essayThe book Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, has long been known as an excellent source of information about elements of the English language and an overall guide to writing style.

Some of the most practical tips that are discussed in this book will also be useful in writing your MBA application essays:

Respect Space and Attention
Not only are the spaces you are given to write your business school essays constrained by the given word count, but the attention span of the Admissions Committee (who will be reviewing your applications) is also rather short. Using unnecessary words dilutes the impact of the most powerful parts of your essays, the same way adding water to a perfectly blended coffee would dilute the drink.

Being respectful of word limits and the valuable time of the reader should help provide you with some discipline, allowing you to cut down on unrelated tangents and lengthy deliveries as you edit your writing.

Write for a Broad Audience
Taking into account that your reader may be someone who does not hold an MBA himself – and even more likely, holds a background outside your specific field – avoid using industry jargon and company-specific references while writing. These details are needless words that will only bore, and potentially even alienate, your readers. Instead, write with a broader audience in mind, focusing your essays on your impact on people, your company as a whole and events, rather than on finite, technical details of your work and accomplishments.

Focusing on only the style of your writing, especially by showing off an overly-immense vocabulary, can also distract from your message, just like the 2013 movie, The Counselor. (Chances are you haven’t even seen this movie, and that just makes my point!)

With a top-caliber cast and crew, this film disappointed critics and the box-office alike – with names like Brad Pitt, Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz associated with the film, it was a wonder that a movie could fail so badly. However, word-of-mouth from most moviegoers and critics was often unnecessarily long-winded and boring. Thus, the film’s vast talents and materials at its disposal were wasted.

Just as a successful box-office hit will keep a wider audience engaged while still delivering its message powerfully and subtly, your essays should present your personal story well to all readers, and make the Admissions Committee root for your triumph.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

How to Effectively Prepare for the Analytical Writing Portion of the GRE

Keep Calm Write FastThe analytical writing section is one of the three parts of the GRE. Students are asked to write two different types of essays for this section. These essays reveal a student’s ability to understand what an author is conveying, organize ideas in a logical way, use specific examples to support their ideas, and write in a clear, concise manner. Let’s examine how to prepare for analytical writing, GRE essay tips, and more:

The Analytical Writing Section on the GRE
Students are required to write an issue essay and an argument essay for the GRE. For the issue essay, students must read a statement about a familiar topic. Then, they write an essay explaining whether they agree or disagree with the statement. Students should use specific examples to support their position.

For the argument essay, students must read and analyze an argument put forth by an author. Then, they write an essay proving that the argument is either logical or illogical based on specific examples from the text – the argument essay does not ask the student to agree or disagree with the author’s statement. It’s important for students to read the specific instructions that accompany both the issue and argument essays on the GRE.

Writing Practice Essays
There are several things students can do to prep for this section of the GRE. Analytical writing practice is very helpful for students who want to become more adept at creating both types of essays. It’s a good idea to start the process by making an outline that highlights the important points that a student wants to include in an essay. Then, a student can refer to the outline to stay on track while writing.

Students are given 30 minutes to write each of the essays for the GRE. Analytical writing practice should include using a timer to make sure that a student can finish writing an essay in the allotted amount of time. Of course, a student must factor in the time it takes to read the author’s statement, create an outline, and complete the essay itself. Getting the timing right can take some of the stress out of writing the essays on test day.

Examine Successful GRE Essays
Along with writing practice essays for the GRE, analytical writing preparation should include reading essays that received high scores on the exam. Students can look at the various components of these essays as well as how they are organized to get an idea of what test graders are looking for.

Some students may find it beneficial to use a high-scoring essay as a guide as they practice writing their own issue and argument essays. For many students, it’s useful to see the arrangement of ideas in these high-scoring essays. Often, students who write these successful essays follow a very simple outline that any student can use.

Learning New Vocabulary Words
Another important part of GRE analytical writing preparation is learning how to use appropriate words to get a point across in an essay. Students can expand their vocabulary by reading newspaper and magazine articles to become familiar with commonly used words and their definitions. Some students make flashcards to help them learn these new vocabulary words. In addition, a student has the opportunity to read well-crafted sentences in these types of publications.

Students can also benefit from looking at the vocabulary words used in essays that received high scores on the GRE. Even if students don’t use all of these newly-learned words in their GRE essays, they may use them in future assignments and papers written for graduate school courses. In short, it’s always beneficial for a student to add to their supply of vocabulary words.

At Veritas Prep, we teach our students how to prepare for analytical writing. GRE test-takers who study with us get the tools and confidence they need to write high-scoring essays. Each of our online GRE tutors earned an impressive score on the exam – this means we have the inside track on the analytical writing section, as well as every other section of the test! We teach students practical strategies that allow them to show off their essay-writing skills on the GRE. Contact our offices to sign up for one of our effective GRE prep classes today!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

4 Factors to Discuss With Your Partner Before Applying to Business School

scottbloomdecisionsFor many, applying to business school is not just about attending the best school or landing the fanciest, highest-paying job. Other considerations should factor into the decision of which schools to apply to. For those with significant others, discussions about these considerations are important to surviving not only the business school application process, but also the two-year journey after you are admitted. Let’s discuss a few of the topics that should be considered with your significant other before applying:

1) Moving
One of the hardest decisions for many applicants to make is whether or not to move away from their partner when they go to business school. People are often very rooted in their current location for a variety of reasons, which may include proximity to family and friends, employment opportunities, or just general preference.

The decision to move is an important one, as business school can be an amazing shared experience for a couple to have, but will also a very hectic time for the student. Between attending classes and other school functions, spending time with their classmates and networking with recruiters, MBA students often have little time to spend with their significant others, even if their partners are local.

2) Finances
How are you paying for your MBA? Can your family or relationship last the financial pressures of one person being enrolled as a full-time student? These are just a few of the questions that should be discussed prior to making the leap to business school. Finances have always played a huge role in the vitality of relationships, and the additional stress a misalignment of income may cause during an already stressful period could have even worse implications.

3) Career Trajectory
Are you and your partner both aligned on the applicant’s post-MBA career path. This may seem like an innocuous issue, but all career paths are not created equal. Considering the historic reputations of certain career paths as being time intensive (such as investment banking and management consulting), make sure your partner is truly on board with your MBA journey. It is important for both parties to understand how things will change post-graduation and to make the proper decision based on this information.

4) Location
Spending two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts and spending two years in Palo Alto, California will lead to fairly different geographic experiences. From the weather to the culture to the food to distance from family, where you and your partner spend your two years during business school is an important consideration. Hash out your preferences early on to best set up your application strategy.

Applying to business school is a family decision and should be treated as such. So make sure you consider the above factors as you vet your decision to pursue an MBA.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

AP Biology Tutoring for High School Students

i-have-no-idea-what-im-doing-science-dog1In many high schools, students can take advanced placement courses in several different subjects. One of those subjects is biology. Taking an AP biology course in high school may allow you to earn college credit. This is especially appealing if you want to get a head start on completing all of your required courses.

If you decide to take an AP biology course, you may want to consider getting a tutor. An AP biology tutor can help to boost your performance. Study for AP biology with a tutor to improve the odds of a high score!

Enjoy a Different Perspective
A tutor can offer you different ways to look at a challenging topic. For instance, if you’re having trouble understanding a particular concept in genetics, your tutor may be able to suggest different ways of approaching it. Sometimes looking at a topic in an unfamiliar way can lead to better understanding. There’s a good chance that your tutor will be able to offer some strategies that contribute to your understanding of a puzzling concept.

Our AP tutors at Veritas Prep are both experienced and knowledgeable. When you work with one of our professional AP biology tutors, you’re studying with someone who has mastered the subject. We believe it’s best to learn from the experts!

Accountability
When you have an AP biology tutor, you’re likely to feel a stronger sense of accountability. A sense of accountability helps you to keep up with all of your coursework and take excellent notes during class. Plus, you want to get the most out of each session with your tutor.

After signing up with Veritas Prep, you’ll meet with an experienced tutor to discuss your goals. As you achieve each goal, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to master the material in your AP biology course. Furthermore, you’ll feel prepared to take the AP test and move a step closer to starting college on the right foot.

A More Efficient Way of Learning
By definition, students taking an AP biology course are completing more challenging work than students taking a typical biology course. The material is covered at a faster rate to give you a taste of what you’ll experience in college courses. Working with an AP biology tutor gives you an extra advantage when navigating this course. A tutor can convey lessons and tips in a way that flows with your learning style. This adds a tremendous amount of efficiency to the process of learning and reviewing any type of class material.

Focused, Individual Attention
A big benefit of working with a tutor for AP biology is that you will receive individual attention. For instance, perhaps you’ve written down several questions to ask your AP biology teacher at school, but when the class period ends, the teacher doesn’t have time to sit down with you to address them.

With our AP biology tutors, you won’t have to worry about that. Your tutor can help you get answers to all of your questions so you can continue to perform well in class. Also, a tutor can review the lessons with you to ensure your understanding of them.

Tutors at Veritas Prep understand the amount of work that is expected of students in an AP biology class, and we know that a tutor who provides individual attention can sometimes be the difference between a student’s partial and full understanding of a biology lesson.

Encouragement and Support
Of course, the responsibility of your tutor is to instruct you in biology and provide you with guided practice that helps you to fully understand the topics. In addition, your AP biology tutor can supply you with the encouragement and support you need, especially as you tackle extraordinarily challenging material. At Veritas Prep, we are proud to have AP biology tutors who serve as supportive study partners to students like you.

We provide you with first-rate study resources and tutoring so you can conquer even the most difficult lessons in your AP biology course. Also, our talented instructors are more than ready to prep you for the AP exam for biology. We put the element of convenience into our services so you can choose a tutoring option that fits your schedule. Contact our offices today to start working toward straight A’s in AP biology.

How to Use the Pythagorean Theorem With a Circle

Pie ChartIt does not surprise anyone when they learn that the properties of circles are tested on the GMAT. Most test-takers will nod and rattle off the relevant equations by rote: Area = Π*radius ^2; Circumference  = 2Π* radius; etc. However, many of my students are caught off guard to learn that the equation for a circle on the coordinate plane is our good friend the Pythagorean theorem. Why on earth would an equation for a right triangle describe a circle?

Take a look at the following diagram in which a circle is centered on the origin (0,0) in the coordinate plane:

DG Circle 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designate a random point on the circle (x,y.) If we draw a line from the center of the circle to x,y, that line is a radius of the circle. Call it r. If we drop a line down from (x,y) to the x-axis, we’ll have a right triangle:

DG Blog 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that the base of the triangle is x, and the height of the triangle is y. So now we have our Pythagorean theorem: x^2 + y^2 = r^2. This is also the equation for a circle centered on the origin on the coordinate plane. [The more general equation for a circle with a center (a,b) is (x-a)^2 + (y-b)^2 = r^2. When a circle is centered on the origin, (a,b) is simply (0,0.)]

This ends up being an immensely useful tool to use on the GMAT. Take the following question, for example:

A certain circle in the xy-plane has its center at the origin. If P is a point on the circle, what is the sum of the squares of the coordinates of P?

(1) The radius of the circle is 4
(2) The sum of the coordinates of P is 0

So let’s draw this, designating P as (x,y):

DG Blog 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we draw our trust right triangle by dropping a line down from P to the x-axis, which will give us this:

DG Blog 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re looking for x^2 + y^2. Hopefully, at this point, you notice what the question is going for – because we have a right triangle, x^2 + y^2 = r^2, meaning that all we need is the radius!

Statement 1 is pretty straightforward – if r = 4, we can insert this into our equation of x^2 + y^2 = r^2 to get x^2 + y^2 = 4^2. So x^2 + y^2 = 16. Clearly, this is sufficient.

Now look at Statement 2. If the sum of x and y is 0, we can say x = 1 and y = -1 or x = 2 and y = -2 or x = 100 and y = -100, etc. Each of these will yield a different value for x^2 + y^2, so this statement alone is clearly not sufficient. Our answer is A.

Takeaway: any shape can appear on the coordinate plane. If the shape in question is a circle, remember to use the Pythagorean theorem as your equation for the circle, and what would have been a challenging question becomes a tasty piece of baklava. (We are talking about principles elucidated by the ancient Greeks, after all.)

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Applying to Business School: Tips for Older MBA Applicants

MBA EssaysWhile researching potential MBA programs, many applicants find themselves older than the typical student at their target school. Thus, they ask themselves whether they should still bother to apply, and how they should distinguish themselves from younger business school applicants

As with any MBA candidate, statistics such as GPA and GMAT score do matter, however the emphasis on these quantitative aspects of the application is somewhat shifted for older candidates to the factors discussed below. Although these are important factors for candidates of any age to keep in mind, they are more critical for older ones to use to their advantage:

Display Greater Focus
If you are an older MBA applicant, the Admissions Committee will expect you to be more mature. As such, you should show greater self-awareness and display more specific direction than younger applicants do. Clearly identify why you need an MBA, what you want to pursue post-MBA, and how the specific program you are applying to will help you achieve those goals. These goals could include personal development, knowledge gaps that you need to fill, and courses you are looking forward to take.

Discussing your future goals in a focused way is especially important if you are applying to one-year programs, as you will not have as much time during these programs to feel your way around or explore. You will want to present to the Admissions Committee that you know what you need, and that you know how you will use what their program offers.

Leverage Wealth of Interesting Experiences
As an older candidate, you will likely have gone through more experiences at work, in life, and in the community. Interesting experiences could range from exciting strategic shifts to crisis management. Using the knowledge you have gained from these episodes and their aftermath as fodder for your essays not only allows you to highlight your personal qualities and how you have developed, but also to show what you can contribute to classroom discussions.

MBA programs consider the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and networks their students bring to campus to be assets. With more professional and life experiences under your belt, use these to differentiate and strengthen yourself from other, less-experienced candidates.

Play Up Leadership Abilities & Expertise
At this point, it will also help to showcase how you have been able to lead teams, accomplish goals, or mentor others. Even if your official job responsibilities do not directly involved leadership over others, you can still highlight leadership experiences at work, and at your extracurricular activities, in other ways.

You may share the realizations you have gained through your leadership experiences and how they have impacted your leadership style, as well as the motivations behind them. Relate how an MBA will further develop these and help you make an impact on the world around you. You may also identify specific valuable expertise that you can contribute and that your peers can leverage in the classroom, especially if these are in a rare field.

Doing all of the above will present you as someone who will use his or her vast experiences to enrich the experiences of their peers, and of the school community, as a whole.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Prove That You’re Ready for College by Taking AP Classes

AP CoursesYou know when parents say things like, “If Riley and Maya jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course you wouldn’t – you just want to be allowed to (take public transportation alone, go to a concert, etc.) like Riley and Maya. Well, AP classes are definitely something you want to be doing if Riley and Maya are doing them – and this time, your parents will agree. If you are applying to competitive colleges, you can’t afford to be the only applicant without AP classes on your transcript.

What are AP classes?
AP classes are essentially “high school classes on steroids”. By taking AP classes, you’re showing college admissions officers that you can perform at a higher level than the average student at your school, and that you are ready for the big show – college.

For example, you can take a standard high school US History class and become really annoyed with concepts like tariffs and accept that the British are pretty lame. Or, you can challenge yourself by taking AP European History. The subject matter will be more in-depth and you will become an avid tea drinker in order to fully immerse yourself in the European way (plus, you may need the tea to stay up late studying).

AP classes come with a specially trained teacher, increased critical thinking, and more work. If you perform well, it also means a higher-than-4.0 GPA and a more impressive college application.

What are AP exams?
Because AP classes are designed to be on par with college classes, you can take official AP exams offered by The College Board that will prove you should earn real college credit for your studies. If you’re taking AP classes, these exams are imperative because they can allow you to possibly bypass general education courses in college.

Essentially, AP classes will save you money and free up time to volunteer for worthy causes  – at least this is what you will say on your application. In reality, you will probably use your free time to nap.

AP exams are scored on a one to five scale. Aim to score at least a four if you are planning to apply to competitive colleges. Fun fact: you are able to take AP exams without having been enrolled in their respective AP classes, so even if your school does not offer AP courses, you can still study up on a particular subject to take its AP exam.

Will all colleges accept my AP work as college credit?
Some will and some won’t. It is important to research each college you are applying to and find out exactly how AP classes and exams translate to that particular school.

Harvard, for example, does not offer college credit for AP classes on a one-to-one basis. However, Harvard does use AP exam results for course placement, as well as to give students the opportunity to apply for Advance Standing – meaning you can graduate in three years instead of the traditional four.

The University of California (UC) system, on the other hand, does count AP classes as elective college credits as long as you score a three or higher on the official exam (to be a competitive applicant, you should still aim to score a four or five). Additionally, UC schools will allow you to use AP classes to bypass introductory college courses.

What if my high school doesn’t offer AP classes?
Some high schools offer only a few AP classes while others may offer none. College admissions officers review your transcript while also evaluating what academic opportunities you had at your high school, so they will know whether you were actually able to take AP courses or not.

Even if your high school doesn’t offer AP classes, you can still show admissions officers that you’re ready for college-level work by enrolling in courses at your local community college. And if transportation is an issue, many community colleges offer courses online.

What about IB courses?
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is offered at schools worldwide, though it is not nearly as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Like AP classes, the IB coursework is more rigorous than standard high school classwork, and by scoring well on an IB exam, you can earn college credit and/or advanced placement. You can learn more about IB courses here.

So I need to prepare for AP exams and the SAT/ACT?
Basically, yes. Aside from studying for these exams, however, you also need to do well in your other schoolwork and still have time for extracurricular activities, sports and prom. Fortunately, Veritas Prep is here to help you prepare for your exams and consult you on your time management.

Veritas Prep college consultants and tutors can work with you to create an in-depth timeline and help you plan class schedules so that you are taking all the right steps during your high school career. Riley and Maya have already signed up!

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Try to Answer This GMAT Challenge Question!

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomToday, we will give you a GMAT challenge question. The challenge of reviewing this question is not that the question is hard to understand – it is that you will need to solve this official question within a minute using minimum calculations.

Let’s take a look at the question stem:

Date of Transaction

Type of Transaction

June 11

Withdrawal of $350

June 16

Withdrawal of $500

June 21

Deposit of x dollars

For a certain savings account, the table shows the three transactions for the month of June. The daily balance for the account was recorded at the end of each of the 30 days in June. If the daily balance was $1,000 on June 1 and if the average (arithmetic mean) of the daily balances for June was $1,000, what was the amount of the deposit on June 21?

(A) $1,000
(B) $1,150
(C) $1,200
(D) $1,450
(E) $1,600

Think about how you might answer this question:

The average of daily balances = (Balance at the end of June 1 + Balance at the end of June 2 + … + Balance at the end of June 30) / 30 = 1000

Now we have been given the only three transactions that took place:

  • A withdrawal of $350 on June 11 – so on June 11, the account balance goes down to $650.
  • A withdrawal of $500 on June 16 – so on June 16, the account balance goes down to $150.
  • A deposit of $x on June 21 – So on June 21, the account balance goes up to 150 + x.

Now we can plug in these numbers to say the average of daily balances = [1000 + 1000 + …(for 10 days, from June 1 to June 10) + 650 + 650 + … (for 5 days, from June 11 to June 15) +  150 + … (for 5 days, from June 16 to June 20) + (150 + x) + (150 + x) + … (for 10 days, from June 21 to June 30)] / 30 = 1000

One might then end up doing this calculation to find the value of x:

[(1000 * 10) + (650 * 5) + (150 * 5) + ((150 + x) * 10)] / 30 = 1000
x = $1,450
The answer is D.

But this calculation is rather tedious and time consuming. Can’t we use the deviation method we discussed for averages and weighted averages, instead? After all, we are dealing with large values here! How?

Note that we are talking about the average of certain data values. Also, we know the deviations from those data values:

  • The amount from June 11 to June 30 is 350 less.
  • The amount from June 16 to June 30 is another 500 less.
  • The amount from June 21 to June 30 is x in excess.

Through the deviation method, we can see the shortfall = the excess:

350 * 20 + 500 * 15 = x * 10
x = 1,450 (D)

This simplifies our calculation dramatically! Though saving only one minute on a question like this may not seem like a very big deal, saving a minute on every question by using a more efficient method could be the difference between a good Quant score and a great Quant score!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

How to Prepare for the GMAT at Home: Online GMAT Prep

GMATWhen you think about preparing for the GMAT, you may picture yourself sitting in a classroom with others who plan to take the exam. This is one way to go about it, but there are other effective ways to prep for this challenging test, too.

For those who are pressed for time or are worried that the GMAT will be a tough exam to prepare for, GMAT online courses may be the answer. This is an especially convenient option if you work full-time and cannot commit to attending a traditional prep class at a specific time each week. With a bit of planning, it’s entirely possible, or even preferable, to successfully complete your GMAT preparation online.

Set Up an Effective Study Environment
When you decide on online preparation for the GMAT, you must set up an environment that enables you to focus on your studies and get into a serious mindset. This means turning off the television, radio, and CD player in your study room. Also, look for other distractions around the room. Do you have a large window where you can see people and cars on the street? You may want to close the curtains during study time to avoid the temptation of people-watching.

In addition, let others in your household know when you plan to study and ask them to avoid knocking on your door during that time. Clear space on your desk so you have enough room for your computer and all of the other study materials you need. Then, you can try going it alone, or you can work your way through the thorough program of online GMAT preparation at Veritas Prep. In our online courses, we show you how to think like the test-maker! Setting up a quiet, organized study area before you start can help you to get the most out of your instruction and private study time.

Complete a Practice Exam
Completing a practice exam is a critical part of getting ready for the GMAT. Online preparation is more effective when you are aware of both your strongest and weakest subjects. At Veritas Prep, we provide you with the opportunity to take a free exam to gauge your skill level in all four sections of the test. Furthermore, we supply you with a score report and performance analysis so you have a detailed picture of the specific topics to work on. When you prepare for the GMAT with a Veritas Prep tutor, they will review your practice test results with you. We’ll help you approach each subject with practical strategies that can improve your performance on test day.

Craft a Study Schedule Based on Practice Test Results
Making an organized, logical study schedule is another key element of successful GMAT preparation online. You must decide how many hours you’re going to dedicate to GMAT study each day. For example, you may put aside four hours a day, five days a week for study. Another person may study for two hours per day, seven days a week. The study schedule you create depends on your other daily obligations.

When drafting a schedule, it’s helpful to vary the subjects you study each day. For instance, if your practice test results reveal that you need to focus your attention on Reading Comprehension as well as Algebra questions, you could assign one of those topics to Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other to Mondays and Wednesdays. This can help you to maintain interest in your GMAT studies.

Make Note of Any Puzzling Questions
It’s not uncommon for questions to come up as you are studying for the different sections of the GMAT. Online preparation with Veritas Prep means you can access one of our instructors to ask questions on any day of the week; you don’t have to wait for your next online tutoring session to get your pressing questions answered. Sometimes a simple answer to one question can provide the understanding you need to master a concept on the GMAT.

If you’d like to study online for the GMAT, we can make it happen at Veritas Prep! Each of our capable GMAT instructors achieved a score on the exam that landed them into the 99th percentile of test-takers. Simply put, we believe that our students should learn from the best! Our team of instructors at Veritas Prep is ready to help you master your online courses and ace the GMAT. Contact our offices and sign up to start studying today!

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

Extracurricular Activity Suggestions for MBA Students

ExtracurricularsMost people who decide to pursue an MBA understand that business schools are looking for well-qualified candidates. Admissions officials want to know about a candidate’s academic accomplishments, professional life, and career goals. Extracurricular activities also play an important part of a business school application. Some activities for MBA students can highlight skills and talents a person can use in business school.

Consider some extracurricular activities that can help an individual stand out in a crowd of business school applicants:

Organizing a Fundraising Activity at Work
Fundraising is one of the most rewarding extracurricular activities for MBA candidates. For example, a person can enlist the help of colleagues to organize an auction to raise money for a local homeless shelter, or a person may want to organize an employee challenge that brings some fun into the workplace and raises money for a local organization at the same time. Organizing any kind of fundraising activity at work highlights a person’s management and leadership skills. Plus, this sort of activity can raise a lot of money for a worthy cause in the community.

Mentoring a Teenager
Mentoring a young person is one of the most popular extracurricular activities for MBA applicants. A candidate dedicates a certain amount of hours each week to taking a preteen or teenager on outings in the community. Not surprisingly, a mentor can help build the confidence level of a young person. Also, a mentor is a constant source of encouragement and support in a child’s life – a mentor can help with school work or even influence some big decisions made by the teen. Furthermore, a mentor can guide a teenager as they decide on a career path. Business school admissions officials recognize the time, dedication, and leadership it takes to mentor a young person.

Studying a Musical Instrument
An impressive list of MBA activities can also include playing a musical instrument. For example, a person may note that they have studied the clarinet for five years. This shows dedication to perfecting their skills on the clarinet. They may also note that they give free clarinet lessons to three high school students once a week. This reveals their ability to teach others and willingness to share their talents. This is an especially impressive extracurricular when a person has studied a musical instrument for several years.

Coaching a Sports Team
Many effective activities for MBA students are related to sports. For example, a person may coach a local baseball team made up of eight- and nine-year-olds, or a person may coach a track team made up of children with special needs. Participating in these types of extracurricular activities requires strong leadership and management skills. Once again, business school admissions officials will be all the more impressed if the candidate has coached a team for several years.

Teaching a Class
Many management activities for MBA students involve teaching a class. Teaching a GED class to adults is one way for an MBA candidate to show off their leadership skills. Other ideas include teaching a citizenship class, giving swimming lessons, or providing instruction to students who want to learn about business etiquette. Sharing a skill by teaching a class makes for a desirable quality in a business school applicant.

Volunteer Work
A candidate for business school may want to volunteer at a hospital, church, or community center. It’s best for a person to choose a volunteering opportunity that they are really passionate about. Someone who dedicates a few hours or more to volunteer work every week is showing a sense of maturity, responsibility, and concern about the community they live in.

At Veritas Prep, our MBA admissions consultants are experts at providing tips and advice regarding management activities for MBA students. Our professional consultants have a wealth of practical experience with the business school admissions process. We know what the top business schools are looking for in potential students!

Go online to fill out a free profile evaluation and get feedback on your pre-MBA activities as well as all of the other elements of your business school application. We use our knowledge and resources to help individuals craft an application that is sure to get the attention of business school admissions officials. Contact Veritas Prep today.

The Benefits of Thinking With a Growth-Mindset Mentality

GMAT ReasoningDuring a little summer beach vacation, I had the chance to read Carol Dweck’s Mindset. (Yes, this is my beach reading. Don’t judge.) If you’re not familiar with Dweck’s work, she’s the psychologist who pioneered the concepts of the fixed-mindset and the growth-mindset.

In a classic study, students at a middle school were interviewed and asked whether they believed that intelligence was an inherent characteristic (fixed-mindset) or that intelligence was something you can cultivate and improve through hard work (growth-mindset). It will come as no surprise that the growth-mindset group improved their grades over the course of the year by significantly more than the fixed-mindset group did. These effects became more pronounced through high school and college.

Dweck’s book is full of interesting tidbits about the history of testing. For example, Alfred Binet, one of the pioneers of IQ testing, didn’t believe that his tests measured intelligence. Rather, he saw them as a way to identify which students hadn’t properly benefited from their public school education, so that a different, more effective approach might be employed.

Put another way, the test not only wasn’t supposed to measure intelligence, it was designed on the premise that there was no such thing as fixed intelligence, – that anyone could improve and thrive if they had access to the proper tools and strategies.

I’ve written a bit about Dweck in the past, but I’m beginning to see that the implications of her research are even broader than I’d initially suspected. It should go without saying that here at Veritas Prep, we’re advocates of growth-mindset – in fact, the whole notion of test prep is rooted in a growth-mindset mentality! Moreover, I’ve noticed that this fixed vs. growth notion isn’t just applicable to performance on GMAT in general, but has implications for how test-takers attack individual questions.

Here’s a question I tackled with a tutoring student the other day:

How many positive three-digit integers are divisible by both 3 and 4? 

A) 75
B) 128
C) 150
D) 225
E) 300 

My student began by recognizing that if a number is divisible by both 3 and 4, it’s divisible by 12 as well, so the question was really asking how many three-digit numbers were multiples of 12. Then he looked up and told me that he didn’t know what to do.

Now, there is, of course, a way to solve this problem formally. You can find the number of elements in an evenly spaced set by using the following formula: [(High – Low)/Interval] + 1. The smallest three-digit multiple of 12 is 108 (clearly, 120 is a multiple of 12, so you can quickly see that the previous multiple of 12 is 120-12 = 108). The largest three-digit multiple of 12 is 996. (It’s divisible by 3 because 9 + 9 + 6 = 24, which is a multiple of 3. And it’s divisible by 4 because the number formed by the last two digits, 96, is divisible by 4.) So, one way to tackle this problem is to plug these numbers into the aforementioned formula to get [(996-108)/12] + 1 = (888/12) + 1 = 74 + 1 = 75.

But if you don’t know the formula, and you see this question on test day, this approach can’t help you. So rather than offer this equation, I pushed my student to think about the problem with a growth-mindset mentality. I reminded him that you don’t have to solve things formally on this test, and that he could definitely figure out a way to arrive at the correct answer based on logic and intuition. Once he stopped dwelling on the fact that he didn’t know how to do the problem formally, he used the following logic:

Between 1 and 1,000 there are 100 multiples of 10 (1,000/10 = 100). Clearly, between 100 and 999 there are fewer than 100 multiples of 12, as 12 is bigger than 10. If the correct answer is less than 100, it has to be 75, as this is the only answer choice under 100. He was able to solve a question he thought he couldn’t do in about 5 seconds. Thus, the power of the growth-mindset mentality.

Takeaway: Read Carol Dweck’s book. Work on internalizing the main ideas. Switching from a fixed-mindset mentality to a growth-mindset mentality can have a profound impact, not only on how well you perform on the GMAT, but on how ably you tackle problems in every domain of life.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Should You Retake the GMAT?

SAT/ACTPerhaps the most often-asked question during the entire MBA application process is,“Should I retake the GMAT?” The answer to this question will differ from case to case depending on an applicant’s score, their target schools, and their overall profile. If you are considering retaking the GMAT, doing a short cost-benefit analysis, similar to a business endeavor, can aid your decision-making:

1) Recognize the Investments Needed
Apart from the test-taking fee that you will incur for a retake, think about the hours you will need to put in to re-prepare for the GMAT, and whether this will affect the timeliness of your MBA applications. Make sure you consider whether or not you have the availability and the energy to put into this endeavor.

Often ignored, but just as important, factor in the opportunity cost of the hours you will need to spend preparing for your retake. Could you spend those efforts somewhere else to strengthen your profile? Maybe you could get involved in productive activities at work, volunteer in the community, or polish your essays.

If your application is already strong in these areas, then a GMAT retake could be a better use of your time. As such, engaging a test prep service may be the right way to go – taking a GMAT prep course or spending time with a private tutor will optimize the hours that you put into studying, and will be an investment that pays for itself in the long run.

2) Evaluate the Probability of Success
The next step would be to evaluate how likely you are to achieve your desired results. The most straightforward consideration (that requires a truly honest self-assessment) is how you have already performed on the GMAT relative to your potential:

  • Did you prepare well enough?
  • Did you get enough sleep the nights leading up to your exam?
  • Were the test day conditions conducive?

If you believe there’s a reasonable chance that you could have done better than you did, you should seriously think about a retake.

3) Weigh the Potential Benefits
Researching the class profile of your target program, and how you compare to the school’s average GMAT score, should give you an indication as to where you stand. The standardized nature of the GMAT allows for the most straightforward and objective comparison between applicants, so ideally, you will want to score higher on the GMAT than the school’s average.

All things equal, a higher score should improve your chance of admission, and even your opportunities for scholarships. Thus, the expected value of increasing your GMAT score could be high and really worth investing in.

Knowing that you didn’t leave too many potential GMAT points on the table can also simply help you be at peace. This is an important benefit, as it will allow you to focus on the next steps in the application process, and know that you have given the GMAT your best shot.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

GRE Data Interpretation Prep Tips

books_stackedOne of the three parts of the GRE is the Quantitative Reasoning section. This section includes questions that involve geometry, algebra, and basic arithmetic. It also challenges students with questions on data interpretation. GRE test-takers must examine a collection of data in order to answer these questions. Find out more about the data interpretation questions on the GRE here and learn some helpful tips on how to arrive at the correct answers. With our help, you can do your best on the test!

Data Interpretation Questions on the GRE
On the GRE, data interpretation problems feature many types of graphs, charts, diagrams, and tables. There are several questions that accompany each visual expression of data. The questions then delve into the different types of data revealed in the illustration. These math problems measure a student’s ability to understand and interpret the information shown on a graph or chart. Not surprisingly, students who are familiar with many types of graphs and charts are likely to perform well on these questions.

Tips for Answering GRE Data Interpretation Questions
One helpful tip to use when solving data interpretation problems is to take 30 seconds or so to review the information in the graph, chart, table, or diagram. Be on the lookout for measurements, amounts, units, or other labels that can help in the process of interpreting the data. Also, look at what is being calculated – one graph may use percentages to convey data, while another uses dollar figures. This brief review of the details on a graph or chart can help guide a student as they begin to consider the questions that follow.

Another tip is to estimate the numbers found in a chart or diagram in order to arrive at the correct answer. In some cases, amounts and other statistics may not be conveyed in round numbers – coming up with an estimate can lead a student to the correct answer. Eliminating answer options that are obviously wrong is another useful tip for students. This can be done after a student mentally predicts the answer. Narrowing down the number of possible answers can make GRE interpretation questions seem more manageable.

After choosing an answer, it’s a good idea for a student to think about whether the answer fits logically with the data that has been presented. If not, a student may want to mark the question and return to it later on in the test. Spending too much time on one puzzling question can prevent students from finishing the Quantitative Reasoning section in the allotted amount of time. Plus, it can help to take a few minutes to think about a question before approaching it for the second time.

Studying for the Data Interpretation Questions on the GRE
Completing a set of practice math problems is the best way to prep for the data interpretation questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section. A practice test gives students the opportunity to sample the types of data interpretation questions that they will encounter on the actual test. Also, the results of a practice test allow students to see where they need to improve.

Becoming familiar with different types of graphs, diagrams, and charts is another way to prepare for data interpretation questions on the GRE. GRE interpretation questions may contain bar graphs, line graphs, box plots, scatter plots, and circle graphs along with others. Having knowledge of these figures will give a student the tools they need to interpret any set of data, regardless of how it’s presented.

At Veritas Prep, we provide expert tutoring to students who are preparing for the GRE. Our professional instructors have all earned high scores on the exam, which means they are uniquely qualified to help students prepare for the test. We offer online and in-person courses with which students can get the tools they need to ace data interpretation questions. Our instructors are there to answer students’ questions and give them some encouragement along the way.

We are proud to guide students toward their best scores on questions that involve data interpretation. GRE test-takers can rely on our tutoring services to assist them in preparing for these questions, along with all of the others on the exam. At Veritas Prep, we combine superb tutoring with excellent study resources to provide students with top-quality GRE preparation. Contact our offices today!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Selecting the Right Time to Apply to Columbia Before the Regular Decision Deadline

Columbia UniversityColumbia Business School is one of the few top MBA programs that offers a unique rolling admissions format for submitting your application. The standard concept behind rolling admissions is that the school offers a window for applicants to apply to the program (as opposed to the traditional 3-round admissions schedule). What makes this format unique is that instead of waiting for all applications to be received after the deadline to review, the school reviews the applications as they arrive.

This format provides lots of flexibility to candidates but can also present some unique challenges when deciding the best time to apply. Typically for more traditional application deadlines, as long as a candidate submits their application prior to the deadline, there is no advantage to the timing. However, with rolling admissions schools like Columbia, the timing of your submission can be advantageous (or problematic) for your candidacy.

Columbia’s Regular Decision deadline is historically in April, with the following year’s applications being released shortly afterwards – typically in May or June. With such a long application cycle and no clear round-by-round distinction, some candidates may cheer at all the time they have to apply to Columbia. But not so fast – there are some clear advantages to applying early. Let’s discuss the advantages of applying to Columbia Regular Decision early:

Scholarships
Business school can be very pricey, and with its Ivy League stature, Columbia is no different. Columbia sets a January submission deadline every year for those interested in being considered for merit fellowships. By applying months in advance of the deadline, early applicants can ensure they have a chance at additional funding for their Columbia education.

Space
Although Columbia’s application goes live every year early in the summer, even as a rolling admissions school, the Admissions Committee does not start reviewing applications until early December. The earlier candidates can submit their application, the more space there will be in the potential class, the smaller the current pool of other applicants there will be, and the higher visibility their application will have.

Interest
Applying early is a strong sign of interest to Columbia. A school like Columbia that regularly competes with other top programs (such Wharton, HBS, and Kellogg) for top talent, wants to know that their application is a priority to you. The fact that the school has an Early Decision option signals the value it places on interest in attending Columbia. So, submitting an application right after January for the April deadline is not the best indicator of your interest, or of your preparation for pursuing an MBA at Columbia.

These are just a few tips to help make sure you are submitting your Regular Decision application to Columbia at the right time. For more thoughts on Columbia, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Evaluating Nasty GMAT Answer Choices

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomIn some Quant questions, we are given big nasty numbers in the answer choices and little else in the question stem. Often in such cases, the starting point is difficult for the test-taker to find, so today, we will discuss how to handle such questions.

The first and only rule with these types of problems is that familiarity helps. Evaluate the answer choices that make sense to you first.

Let’s look at a few questions to understand how to do that:

Which of the following is NOT prime?

(A) 1,556,551
(B) 2,442,113
(C) 3,893,257
(D) 3,999,991
(E) 9,999,991

The first thing that comes to mind when we consider how to find prime numbers should be to “check the number N for divisibility by all prime factors until we get to the √N.” But note that here, we have four numbers that are prime and one number that is not. Also, the numbers are absolutely enormous and, hence, will be very difficult to work with. So, let’s slide down to a number that seems a bit more sane: 3,999,991 (it is very close to a number with lots of 0’s).

3,999,991 = 4,000,000 – 9
= (2000)^2 – 3^2

This is something we recognise! It’s a difference of squares, which can be written as:

= (2000 + 3) * (2000 – 3)
= 2003 * 1997

Hence, we see that 3,999,991 is a product of two factors other than 1 and itself, so it is not a prime number. We have our answer! The answer is D.

Let’s try another problem:

Which of the following is a perfect square?

 (A) 649
 (B) 961
 (C) 1,664
 (D) 2,509
 (E) 100,000

Here, start by looking at the answer choices. The first one that should stand out is option E, 100,000, since multiples of 10 are always easy to handle. However, we have an odd number of zeroes here, so we know this cannot be a perfect square.

Next, we look at the answer choices that are close to the perfect squares that we intuitively know, such as 30^2 = 900, 40^2 = 1600, 50^2 = 2500. The only possible number whose perfect square could be 961 is 31 – 31^2 will end with a 1 and will be a bit greater than 900 (32^2 will end with a 4, so that cannot be the square root of 961, and the perfect squares of other greater numbers will be much greater than 900).

31^2 = (30 + 1)^2 = 900 + 1 + 2*30*1 = 961

So, we found that 961 is a perfect square and is, hence, the answer!

In case 961 were not a perfect square, we would have tried 1,664 since it is just 64 greater than 1,600. It could be the perfect square of 42, as the perfect square of 42 will end in a 4.

If 1,664 were also not a perfect square (it is not), we would have looked at 2,509. We would have known immediately that 2,509 cannot be a perfect square because it is too close to 2,500. 2,509 ends in a 9, so we may have considered 53 to be its square root, but the difference between consecutive perfect squares increases as we get to greater numbers.

(4^2 is 16 while 5^2 is 25 – the difference between them is 9. The difference between 5^2 and 6^2 will be greater than 9, and so will the difference between the perfect squares of any pair of consecutive integers greater than 6. Hence, the difference between the squares of 50 and 53 certainly cannot be 9.)

Therefore, our answer is B. Let’s try one more question:

When a certain perfect square is increased by 148, the result is another perfect square. What is the value of the original perfect square?

(A) 1,296
(B) 1,369
(C) 1,681
(D) 1,764
(E) 2,500

This question is, again, on perfect squares. We can use the same concepts here, too.

30^2 = 900
31^2 = 961 (=(30+1)^2 = 900 + 1 + 2*30)

40^2= 1,600
41^2 = 1,681 (=(40+1)^2 = 1,600 + 1 + 2*40)

50^2 = 2,500
51^2 = 2,601 (=(50+1)^2 = 2,500 + 1 + 2*50)

We know that the difference between consecutive squares increases as we go to greater numbers: going from 30^2 to 31^2 is a difference of 61, while jumping from 40^2 to 41^2 is a difference of 81.

All the answer choices lie in the range from 900 to 2500. In this range, the difference between consecutive squares is between 60 and 100. So, when you add 148 to a perfect square to get another perfect square in this range, we can say that the numbers must be 2 apart, such as 33 and 35 or 42 and 44, etc. Also, the numbers must lie between 30 and 40 because twice 61 is 122 and twice 81 is 162 – 148 lies somewhere in between 122 and 162.

A and B are the only two possible options.

Consider option A – it ends in a 6, so the square root must end in a 6, too. If you add 148, then it will end with a 4 (the perfect square of a number ending in 8 will end in 4). So this answer choice works.

Consider option B – it ends in a 9, so the square root must end in a 3 or a 7. When you add 148, it ends in 7. No perfect square ends in 7, so this option is out. Our answer is, therefore, A.

We hope you see how a close evaluation of the answer choices can help you solve questions of this type. Go get ’em!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Which Type of Business Degree is Right for You?

scottbloomdecisionsSome students who apply to business school know exactly what type of degree they want to earn. Others know they want to pursue a career in business but may not be sure about a specific degree. Fortunately, there are many types of business degrees that may appeal to students who are still undecided. Consider the following descriptions of different types of business degrees that can help students learn a little about the options available to them:

Accounting
A degree in Accounting involves courses that teach students fundamental accounting principles, and how to interpret financial documents and keep them organized. Students also learn how to find discrepancies in financial documents and determine the reasons for them. Successful professionals in this field are logical thinkers, detail-oriented, consistent, and organized. Some examples of jobs for individuals with Accounting degrees include public accountant, financial reporting manager, compliance professional, and tax accountant.

At Veritas Prep, we provide a variety of services to students who are considering a degree in Accounting, or any of the other different graduate business degrees. For instance, our online instructors prep students for the GMAT, the GRE, or both. We use practice tests and other top-quality study resources to boost a student’s confidence for test day. In short, we have years of experience helping students who are on the path to earning different business degrees.

Business Administration
There are many types of business degrees that teach students how to take on a leadership role within a company – a degree in Business Administration is an ideal example. While earning this degree, students gain knowledge of how to assign tasks to the members of a team to ensure that a project is completed on time. Also, students learn how to communicate effectively with team members, clients, and other project leaders.

A professional working in the field of Business Administration has to know how to effectively manage a project and improve a company’s bottom line. Office administrator, general manager, and administrative services manager are just a few of the job options for students with a degree in business administration.

Business Technology
Students researching different types of business degrees that relate to technology should take a closer look at this area of study. A student earning a Business Technology degree learns about the latest business software used by companies and corporations. Also, students garner knowledge about web marketing, managing an office with today’s technology, and using electronic communication tools in a business setting. Some examples of jobs held by individuals with a Business Technology degree include business software specialist, web marketing specialist, and database user specialist.

Finance
Finance is one of the more well-known types of business degree programs. Students earning this degree learn about portfolio management, financial analysis, and interpreting statistics. Individuals with a degree in finance have many career paths available to them. For example, a person who wants to integrate sales into a career plan may want to look into becoming a financial services sales agent. The position of personal financial adviser is an example of a career where a person uses their financial education to help people plan for retirement or balance their investments. Some other potential job titles include financial analyst, financial manager, and investment banker.

Marketing
Many students who are pursuing a business degree want to get into the field of Marketing. This is a degree for someone interested in learning about consumer research, marketing strategies, and product research. Today’s companies need professionals who know how to introduce a new product based on solid market research. Plus, companies want to know how to attract new customers while retaining loyal ones. Advertising managers, sales managers, commercial directors, and market research specialists are all examples of jobs available for individuals with a Marketing degree.

Students looking at the different types of business degree programs can count on Veritas Prep for tips and guidance. Our knowledgeable team members teach students strategies to use on business school exams and assist in preparing admissions paperwork. We can add an element of organization to the complicated process of applying to schools. Contact our team today and ask about our valuable services.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Kickstart Your GMAT Prep: How to Start Preparing for the GMAT

GMAT PracticeAnyone who has ever applied to business school knows that there are several requirements to fulfill. One of those requirements is to submit a GMAT score. Naturally, you want to do your best on the GMAT to increase your chances of getting into a preferred business school, but where should you begin? Consider some tips on how to start preparing for GMAT questions:

Increase the Amount of Reading You Do
You may wonder how to start preparation for GMAT questions in the Verbal section. As someone who wants to pursue an MBA, you probably read finance-related materials such as newspapers and magazines – you may even be part of an online organization that gives you the latest financial news. Increasing the amount of reading you do can help you prep for Reading Comprehension questions on the exam.

By reading a variety of finance-related materials, you expose yourself to vocabulary words that may appear on the test. Also, reading financial articles and books can get you thinking like a business executive, which is the mindset you should have as you sit down to take the exam. Absorbing the information contained in finance-related materials can contribute to your performance on the GMAT, as well as serve you in your future career.

Complete Practice Questions for the GMAT
When thinking about how to start preparing for GMAT questions, you should certainly put a practice test on your to-do list. A practice GMAT serves you in several ways – for one, you’ll become familiar with the types of questions you’ll encounter on test day. Secondly, you’ll get an idea of how quickly you have to work in order to finish each section of the test before your time is up. In addition, you can use the results of your practice test to create a study schedule that allows you to dedicate the largest amount of time to your weakest subjects.

A free GMAT practice exam is available to you from Veritas Prep. We provide you with a performance analysis as well as a score report so you know what you have mastered and what needs a little work. Once you dive into your studies, it’s a good idea to take follow-up practice tests to gauge your progress.

Create and Follow a Study Schedule
Anyone who is wondering how to start their GMAT preparation must recognize the importance of a study schedule. As with most other exams, gradual study is the best path to success on the GMAT. You may want to study for two or three hours, five or even seven days per week.

The appearance of your study schedule is going to reflect the results of your practice tests. For example, say you need to sharpen your geometry and algebra skills. You may create a schedule that dedicates an hour to geometry on Tuesdays and Thursdays and an hour to algebra on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you find that you need to improve your Reading Comprehension skills, then you may carve out time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to work on that. Creating a varied study schedule is an effective way to stay organized and keep up with your study goals.

Learn Strategies to Master the Exam
As you learn how to start your GMAT preparation, it may surprise you to discover that memorizing facts and word definitions is not the key to mastering this exam. You have to take the right approach to the GMAT by thinking like the people who created the test. You have to know how to apply the knowledge that you possess.

Our curriculum shows you what you need to do to successfully navigate your way through the questions on the GMAT. Our instructors teach you how to avoid jumping to the seemingly obvious answer and falling into traps set by the creators of the test. We have several instructional options that allow you to choose the most convenient way to start preparing for GMAT questions. We hire instructors who have teaching experience and practical experience with the GMAT. You’ll be learning from professional instructors whose scores on the GMAT put them in the 99th percentile.

If you’ve been wondering how to start preparation for GMAT questions, Veritas Prep can help. Get in touch with our offices today and begin your journey to success on the GMAT!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

GRE Physics Prep Solutions and Study Guide

GoalsThe GRE physics subject test is for students who plan to study this subject in graduate school. The results of this test can help graduate school officials determine a student’s course of study in the area of physics. GRE prep is necessary when students want to showcase their full range of knowledge on this subject. Look at the material on the GRE physics test and find out how to prep for it.

What Is On the GRE Physics Test?
The GRE physics subject test has 100 questions. Each of those questions has five answer options to choose from. Students encounter many different topics on the exam. Questions on classical mechanics make up 20 percent of the test – dynamics of systems of particles, three-dimensional particle dynamics, Newton’s laws, and kinematics are just a few of the topics that relate to classical mechanics.

Other topics on the physics test include electromagnetism, optics and wave phenomena, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, special relativity, and laboratory methods. Nine percent of the test is devoted to specialized topics such as nuclear and particle physics, condensed matter, astrophysics, and computer applications.

Math on the GRE Physics Test
As a student studies for the test in physics, GRE prep should include a review of mathematical methods used in physics. Some of the questions on the test require students to know how to apply these methods. Coordinate systems, partial differential equations, boundary value problems, and multivariate calculus are a few examples of math topics that students should be familiar with for the test.

The Scoring System for the Physics Test
Before starting to follow any physics GRE study guide, students must be familiar with the scoring system for the test, as it is different from the system for the general GRE. Students can score between 200 and 990 points on the GRE physics test – the test is scored in ten-point increments. A score report displays a student’s test score as well as the person’s percentile ranking. Students’ scores are valid for five years from the year they take the test.

GRE Physics Preparation Tips
For students taking the GRE, physics preparation should begin with a practice test. The results of the practice test will give students an indication of what skills they need to work on. Plus, taking a timed practice test allows students to set a reasonable pace that allows them to finish the entire test in the allotted 170 minutes.

It’s also a good idea for students to review the material they learned in physics courses in undergraduate school. This includes textbooks, course notes, and assignments. As students move through a physics GRE study guide, they should remember that test questions are based on material learned in undergraduate physics classes. Students who set aside several months for GRE physics preparation are giving themselves an advantage – they are able to study in a way that allows them to fully absorb the necessary material.

Achieving Success on the GRE Physics Test
Students gain an advantage on the GRE physics test when they tackle the easiest questions first. This helps to build their confidence as they go back to work on the more puzzling test questions. Plus, this tactic prevents students from wasting a lot of valuable time on a single challenging problem.

Eliminating answers that are obviously wrong is another simple thing students can do as they work through the test. Narrowing the number of answer choices makes the process of finding the correct option a little bit easier. Working out problems on a piece of scratch paper can also be helpful to students as they move through the physics test. Sometimes, the correct answer seems more apparent when a student sees all of the work in front of them.

At Veritas Prep, we provide effective GRE tutoring services. Students have the opportunity to work with tutors who have achieved great success on the GRE. Consequently, students can get the inside track on what they need to know about the test. We help students who are looking for physics GRE solutions! We are also experts at preparing students for the GRE via our online and in-person courses, and we teach students strategies that they can use on every test question. For students who are studying physics, GRE solutions are readily available at Veritas Prep!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Success by Numbers: Statistics Tutoring

QuestioningWhether you’re studying for the AP statistics exam or taking an AP course in statistics, a statistics tutor can be very helpful. A good tutor can make this challenging subject more accessible to you. Naturally, when you sign up to work with a tutor, you want to benefit from each and every session. When you come prepared and pick a qualified tutor, it’s much easier to make the most of your time spent with a tutor for statistics.

Bring a List of Questions
As you study for an Advanced Placement course or prepare to take the AP statistics test, you’re likely to encounter questions about the reading material. One of the best things about having a tutor in statistics is you can ask a lot of questions and get satisfactory answers, so bring a list of questions to each tutoring session to get the answers you need to progress in your studies. Sometimes asking a pointed question about a lesson or a chapter in a statistics textbook can open the doors to a new understanding of a topic.

Complete Practice Problems Each Session
You can memorize facts about statistics, but you need to know how to apply that information on a test or a homework assignment. During a statistics tutoring session, you can get all of the practice you need under the guidance of an expert instructor. As you complete statistics problems and exercises, you can get tips from your tutor on how to solve these problems more efficiently. This individual attention can prepare you for tackling many forms of statistics problems.

Get Note-Taking Tips
If you are getting tutoring to help you perform better in a course, you may want to garner some note-taking tips from your instructor. An experienced tutor can show you how to take class notes while paying close attention to the lecturer. Also, your tutor can help you to filter out incidental information and take down facts that may appear on a test. Your tutor may even be able to offer some shortcuts that can reduce the amount of time you spend reading textbook chapters. In short, your tutor can offer you tips that will prove helpful to you later on when it’s time to review.

Learn Test-Taking Strategies
Learning test-taking strategies from your tutor can help you to perform better in a statistics class or on the AP statistics test. At Veritas Prep, our statistics tutors can provide you with valuable strategies that you can use on a test. For example, a tutor can guide you on how to spot answer options on a multiple-choice test that are obviously incorrect. Crossing these answer options out can make any problem appear more manageable. Also, your tutor can show you how to pinpoint the most important parts of a statistics question. This can be especially helpful if the question includes lots of details. Often, the strategies you learn during a tutoring session can help you to feel more confident in your test-taking abilities.

Ask for Practical Tips
Tutors for statistics who have taken the AP statistics test or completed an AP statistics course can offer tips that they learned along the way. For instance, an experienced tutor may advise you to look over all of the questions on a statistics test before starting work on the ones that you feel most comfortable with. This can give you confidence as you move on to more challenging questions.

Another example of a practical tip provided by a tutor is to write out all of the steps leading to your answer. This allows you to look back at your work to see where you went wrong if the answer you arrived at is not included in the options given. It’s no coincidence that our skillful tutors are experts in the subjects they teach. This means that when you receive tutoring for statistics from us, you’re learning from someone who thoroughly understands this discipline.

You’re sure to benefit in a big way when you sign up for statistics tutoring sessions with a Veritas Prep instructor. We make getting help easy by offering you a variety of tutoring options, including online instruction. Call us or send an email to learn how to partner with a professional statistics tutor today!

Why It’s Hard to Be a Poet in Business School

Make Studying FunOnce MBA classes start, they move very quickly, and although you’ll want to spend a lot of time outside of class trying to understand the new concepts you are learning, you won’t have much time. For someone who doesn’t have a strong quantitative background, taking statistics, accounting, and economics at the same time can be quite challenging. If you’ve never seen a financial statement or learned how to do derivatives, you might want to consider doing some work before you get to campus.

Take a look at what classes you’ll need to take over the course of your MBA program. These will likely be similar across programs, so you can figure out which classes will be most helpful for you to take at your local community college, extension program, or online before school begins. If you’ve never taken economics, pick up a book about demand curves and learn how businesses determine how much of a product to sell. If you haven’t taken a math class since your freshman year of college, take at least one before you get to campus.

With a basic understanding of statistics, accounting, and economics, you’ll be much more successful during your first year of school, and you’ll also be a great resource to your classmates who might be struggling a bit more than you. Recommended classes to take are business statistics, financial accounting, and microeconomics, but if you only find “accounting” or “statistics” courses, those will still be quite helpful.

Taking on extra quant-based coursework might seem like a daunting task while you’re working full time, studying for the GMAT, and writing essays for your business school applications, but it is definitely worthwhile – just think, you’ll be this busy if not busier in business school, so you might as well start now and learn how to manage your time. Those quant classes will also help you prep for the GMAT, so it’s really a win-win.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed during your first few weeks of school, just remember that you’re not alone. There will be a lot of people in your class who come from a humanities background, and you will still have a lot to offer your classmates, even if it is not through your accounting or statistics expertise.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill studied Middle Eastern and North African Studies at UCLA before heading to Michigan’s Ross School of Business to pursue international development consulting in Africa. She’s very happy she took accounting and statistics in the year before she moved to Ann Arbor.

Evaluating “Useful to Evaluate” Critical Reasoning Questions – Part II

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomLast week we looked at how to handle “useful to evaluate” questions in the Verbal section, and we left you with a tricky “useful to evaluate except” question. Let’s take a look at that problem today. “Except” questions are usually more difficult to deal with since we need to find four “correct” options (which we are not as used to). So, let’s take a look at this question:

Following several years of declining advertising sales, the Greenville Times reorganized its advertising sales force two years ago. Before the reorganization, the sales force was organised geographically, with some sales representatives concentrating on city center businesses and others concentrating on different outlying regions. The reorganization attempted to increase the sales representatives’ knowledge of clients’ businesses by having each sales representative deal with only one type of industry or of retailing. After the reorganization, advertising sales increased. 

In assessing whether the improvement in advertising sales can properly be attributed to the reorganization, it would be helpful to find out each of the following EXCEPT:

(A) Two years ago, what proportion of the Greenville Times’ total revenue was generated by advertising sales?
(B) Has the circulation of the Greenville Times increased substantially in the last two years?
(C) Has there been a substantial turnover in personnel in the advertising sales force over the last two years?
(D) Before the reorganization, had sales representatives found it difficult to keep up with relevant developments in all types of businesses to which they are assigned?
(E) Has the economy in Greenville and the surrounding regions been growing rapidly over the last two years?

Let’s first break down what the argument says:

  • Advertising sales were declining.
  • The paper reorganized the advertising sales team two years back.
  • Advertising sales increased after reorganisation.

Now, we want to figure out whether the increase actually happened due to the reorganization; in other words, we need to evaluate what else could have caused the increase in sales, if not the reorganization. Say the lead of the sales team changed two years back – it is possible that he is responsible for the increase in revenue. Four of the five answer choices will raise similar questions, while the leftover option (which will be our answer) will not. Let’s take a look at each of the answer choices:

(A) Two years ago, what proportion of the Greenville Times’ total revenue was generated by the advertising sales?

The proportion of advertising sales as a part of the total revenue is immaterial to us – we only need to evaluate why the advertising sales have increased. It is possible that the revenue from other sources has increased much more than the revenue from advertising sales, and hence, advertising sales could be a smaller proportion of the overall revenue now, however this doesn’t matter at all. This option has nothing to do with the increase in advertising sales, and hence, is the correct answer.

Let’s take a look at all the other options too, just to be safe:

(B) Has the circulation of the Greenville Times increased substantially in the last two years?

This answer choice can be evaluated in two ways:

  1. Yes, it has increased – If the circulation increased substantially in the last two years, that could have led to the increase in advertising sales.
  2. No, it has not increased – If the circulation hasn’t increased substantially, then there must be another reason for the increase in advertising sales. In that case, the reorganization could be the reason.

These two answers affect the argument differently, and hence, this option will be useful in evaluating the argument.

(C) Has there been a substantial turnover in personnel in the advertising sales force over the last two years?

Again, the answer choice can be evaluated in two ways:

  1. Yes, there has – If there has been a substantial turnover in personnel, it is possible that more capable people have been hired, which could have led to higher advertising sales.
  2. No, there hasn’t – If there hasn’t been a substantial turnover in personnel, then there would need to be another reason for the increased advertising sales. In that case, the reorganization could be the reason.

The two answers affect the argument differently, so this option will also be useful in evaluating the argument.

(D) Before the reorganization, had sales representatives found it difficult to keep up with relevant developments in all types of businesses to which they are assigned?

This option can also be evaluated in two ways:

  1. Yes, they did find it difficult – Did reorganization make it easier to keep track of relevant developments? If yes, then the reorganization could be responsible for the increase in sales.
  2. No, they did not find it difficult – If they did not find it difficult to keep up with relevant developments, then we cannot say whether the reorganization was responsible for the increase in sales or not.

These two responses affect the argument differently. Hence, this option will be useful in evaluating the argument.

(E) Has the economy in Greenville and the surrounding regions been growing rapidly over the last two years?

Answer choice E can also be evaluated in two ways:

  1. Yes, it has – If the economy has been growing rapidly over the past two years, it could be the reason for higher advertising sales. Then we may not be able to attribute the improvement in advertising sales to the reorganization.
  2. No it has not – If there has been no such growth in the economy, then reorganization could be the reason for higher advertising sales.

Again, the two responses affect the argument differently, so this option will also be useful in evaluating the argument.

We see that B, C, D and E are all useful in evaluating the argument. Therefore, our answer is A. We hope you will find it easier to handle such questions in the future!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Applying to Business School as an Entrepreneur

MBA AdmissionsFor the vast majority of business school applicants, pursuing an MBA is primarily about the opportunity to secure employment at their dream corporations. If you are one of the the ambitious few who are interested in entrepreneurship, your MBA dreams may align with incubating your own venture and forgoing the sanctity and security of the more traditional post-MBA career paths.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur sets up a very specific set of considerations applicants should be aware of, however. Let’s discuss a few things that should be considered before applying to MBA programs as an entrepreneur:

Chances of Success:
How confident are you in the viability of your concept/business? Applying to business school as an entrepreneur is very risky from an application perspective. The Admissions Committee will surely scrutinize your plan and its potential for success, so it is important you have run a similar “stress test” on your concept or business.

Generally, business schools want to make sure their students are employed after graduation – an MBA who is not placed at a job at graduation (or 3 months after) can not only bring down the statistics of the school’s post-graduation employment report, but it can also cause that graduate to be an unhappy alumnus, which can lead to a negative perception of their MBA experience. As such, it will be best to make sure your entrepreneurial ambitions are clearly achievable, to both yourself and to the Admissions Committee.

Back-up Plan:
A high percentage of startup businesses fail. Do you have a contingency plan if your concept fails or if you just decide entrepreneurship is not for you? Schools will be looking to know that you have thought through all of the permutations and combinations of your decision. This can commonly manifest itself as an application question, essay prompt or an interview question, so have an answer ready that is well-thought-out and aligns with your past experiences.

Program Support:
Are you targeting MBA programs that have a track record of supporting entrepreneurship? The more your school is receptive to the challenges of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, the more well-received your application will be. Don’t think this makes your chances of admission much higher, as these schools are also looking to weed out those less committed to their goals. Also, some programs support entrepreneurs as alumni through funding and loan forgiveness, which could be advantageous during those lean early years of launching your business, and will be handy to keep in mind as you compile your list of target schools.

Timeline:
Does your timeline for diving into entrepreneurship make sense? Often, applicants will identify entrepreneurship as their short-term post-MBA goal. However, if the road map to starting your business appears a bit murky, shifting this short-term goal to the long-term may help make a better case for your profile. The Admissions Committee tends to be a bit more forgiving with long-term goals, given that so many things can happen before reaching them, but with short-term goals, the expectation is these should be highly achievable.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur can be challenging, but can also represent a tremendous opportunity to pursue your dreams. Consider the above factors before you start your own application process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Write an Effective Argument Essay for the GRE

EssayThe Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, has three sections. One of those sections measures a student’s analytical writing skills. For this section, students are required to write both an issue essay and an argument essay. GRE graders look closely at the evidence included in a student’s argument essay as well as the organization of all of the various components. Learn what an argument essay is and get some tips on how to write an outstanding one for the GRE.

What Is the GRE Argument Essay?
The argument essay on the GRE requires students to evaluate an argument put forth by an author. A student’s job is to examine the author’s reasoning and evidence as well as the overall organization of the argument.

Ultimately, a student must decide whether the author’s argument is logical. If a student decides that the author’s argument is illogical, then they must give specific reasons to support that analysis. For example, a student may point out unanswered questions or faulty pieces of evidence in the argument. Alternatively, if a student decides that an author’s argument is logical, then they must offer evidence supporting that analysis.

When writing this essay, students should not reveal whether they agree or disagree with the author’s argument. Furthermore, students should not share their views on the subject being discussed. The purpose of this essay is to reveal a student’s skills in analyzing and evaluating an argument.

Tips for Writing GRE Argument Essays
There are many useful tips that can help students write an excellent argument essay. GRE test-takers may want to begin by jotting down notes on a scrap piece of paper as they read the author’s argument. The few minutes that a student dedicates to taking these notes can ensure that they include all of the important points in the final essay.

Students should always read the instructions paired with each GRE argument task before starting to write. Not every argument essay has the same set of instructions – for example, some instructions require students to focus on an author’s assumptions, while others ask that students focus on unanswered questions in the argument. These are just two examples out of many types of instructions given to students tackling the GRE argument essay. It’s also a wise idea for a student to draft an outline for the essay before beginning to write it. Following an outline can increase the clarity and organization of an argument essay.

Our GRE courses at Veritas Prep provide students with the tools and strategies they need to craft a notable argument essay. Our instructors have taken and mastered the GRE, enabling them to pass on valuable tips to students. We offer several tutoring options, including online and in-person instruction, to make GRE preparation as convenient as possible for our busy students.`

Preparing for the Argument Essay
Most students want to do everything they can to write a clear, organized argument essay. GRE prep should include essay-writing practice. Students can write a practice argument essay, then dissect it sentence by sentence to make sure it contains all of the necessary elements. As a note, the GRE gives students 30 minutes to write an argument essay, so it’s a good idea for students to time themselves when they complete their practice essays. That way, they know how much time they can spend on making notes, drafting an outline, and writing the essay.

It’s also helpful for students to study essays that received a high score on the GRE. An outstanding argument essay contains vocabulary words that add to the clarity of the writing. Students can expand their supply of vocabulary words by reading online articles, newspapers, and magazines. They may want to jot down some words commonly used in these publications. Flashcards are helpful study tools for students who are learning unfamiliar words and their definitions.

Our instructors can teach students how to write a GRE argument essay. We offer practical advice and guidance that students can use as they move through the steps of writing a convincing essay. Also, our instructors give valuable encouragement to students to help them have a confident mindset on test day. Contact Veritas Prep today and let us help you boost your essay-writing skills!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

What’s Going on With the ACT Essay: A Synopsis of Recent Issues with ACT Essay Scoring

tutoringIn September of 2015, changes were made to the essay on the ACT. The essay now has a new system of scoring. In addition, students are asked to approach the essay in a different way than in previous years.

There have been some issues that have come up as a result of these changes. Learn the specifics about some of the changes relating to the ACT essay:

Differences Between the Old ACT Essay and the New ACT Essay
On the old ACT essay, students were given a prompt and asked to take a stand on a particular issue. The new version of the essay gives students a prompt that outlines an issue and offers three perspectives on it. Students must analyze the issue as well as offer their own perspective on it. In addition, they are asked to describe the relationship between their perspective and the ones offered.

Students are given 40 minutes to finish the essay, whereas they were given just 30 minutes on the previous version of the test. As a note, a student’s essay score is not affected by the stance they take on the given issue.

The Old ACT Essay Scoring System vs. the Current System
On the old ACT, students could score from two to 12 points on the essay. A student’s essay was read by two graders – each of these graders gave an essay a score ranging from one to six. The two scores were combined to determine the total amount of points.

Today, students can score from one to 36 points on the new ACT essay. Graders evaluate several aspects of an essay, including its organization, language use, development, support, ideas, and analysis. This new scoring system is designed to reveal more information about a student’s specific writing skills.

What Sorts of Issues Are Occurring With the New Essay Scoring System on the ACT?
One of the recent issues with the new ACT essay scoring system involves students reporting unexpectedly low scores on the essay. Some students are performing well on every other part of the ACT but are getting a low score on the essay, and teachers and school counselors who know the capabilities of their students are questioning these low essay scores. This issue is prompting some students to request that their essay be re-scored.

Another issue with the ACT essay has had to do with timing. Some students who took the ACT in September of 2015 applied to college via early decision or early action. Generally, the deadline for early decision applications is in November and the deadline for early action applications is usually in November or early December. In some cases, ACT essay scores were delayed, making students wonder if their application would still be eligible for early decision or early action.

What Options Do Students Have Regarding Their Essay Score?
Students who don’t agree with their ACT essay score can request to have their essay re-scored. They must make this request in writing within three months of getting their score. There is a fee of $50 to have an essay hand-scored. It takes up to five weeks to get the hand-scoring results. If an error is found, the updated scores are sent out to the student as well as others who received the original scores. Also, a student’s re-scoring fee is refunded.

Tips for Writing an Effective ACT Essay
One of the most effective ways students can prep for this section of the ACT is to write a practice essay. It’s a good idea for a student to time the essay-writing process so they will be able to finish in the allotted 40 minutes. Many students look at high-scoring essays to see what they need to include in order to earn an impressive ACT essay score.

Our ACT courses at Veritas Prep are designed to help students tackle the essay as well as every other section on the test. Each of our talented instructors scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. This means that Veritas Prep students are learning test-taking strategies from the experts! Students can take ACT prep classes from Veritas Prep either online or in person. We give you the tools to showcase your talents on the ACT!

Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Is 730 the New 700 for Top MBA Programs?

Harvard Business SchoolFor many years, a score of 700 on the GMAT represented the threshold that aspiring MBAs targeted to be competitive applicants to business school. This score served as the proverbial goal post for many applicants seeking admission to top programs, as well as a way to better position themselves for post-MBA employment opportunities in feeder industries like consulting and investment banking.

As applications to top MBA programs around the world have become increasingly more competitive, standards for admission have also risen, with the brunt of this competition being felt through rising GMAT scores.

Over the last five years, top programs like Stanford, Kellogg, and Wharton have reported record GMAT scores, with some programs even experiencing double-digit growth in a single year. This GMAT arms race from top business schools has accentuated the race for top talent that is currently underway in the competitive world of business school admissions – GMAT scores play a huge role in MBA rankings, which probably is the driving force behind this trend.

As this paradigm shifts, applicants must shift their expectations, as well. For many of the top programs, the former target score of a 700 is now almost 30 points lower than the average GMAT score of these same schools today – a change that has occurred in less than ten years.

The GMAT remains just one piece of the admissions puzzle, albeit an important one, with other aspects of an applicant’s profile holding considerable weight, as well. As such, it would be wise for aspiring MBAs to align their expectations with the new GMAT world order. Keep in mind that when it comes to GMAT averages, some people will score below the average and some will score above the average for each school, so there is certainly wiggle room here (in fact, most top programs still have 80% ranges that include the old 700 benchmark).

As you create your target school list, make sure you are identifying programs that not only align with your development needs, but also match up with your candidate data points.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Lesser-Known Facts That May Contribute to College Acceptance

GMATMost college-bound high school students know the basics when it comes to college acceptance criteria. They understand that college admissions officials look at a student’s grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. But there are some lesser-known factors that can affect a student’s college acceptance chances. Consider just a few examples:

Studying Overseas
College admissions officials take notice of high school students who have studied overseas. A student who has spent time overseas has experience with other cultures. Plus, it’s very likely that the student is fluent in one or more foreign languages. This type of experience and knowledge appeals to colleges looking to fill their freshman class with students who have a unique perspective on the world. In addition, a student who has studied overseas may be able to get credit that counts toward fulfilling a college’s foreign language requirement.

Knowledge of a School
A student’s knowledge of a school can affect their college acceptance chances. College officials appreciate when a student takes the time and effort to learn about the history of their school. In order to get this type of knowledge, a student can ask questions during a campus tour as well as read about the traditions of the school. In short, a student who knows more than what is displayed on a school’s website is going to get the attention of college officials during an interview.

A Record of Taking on Challenging High School Courses
College officials look at whether applicants challenge themselves in high school. In some cases, a student who takes increasingly difficult courses each year is more likely to get a college acceptance letter than a student who excels in classes that are relatively easy. Students who take challenging courses are showing an enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to expand their skills. Colleges want students who are excited about growing academically.

A Strong Admissions Essay
High school students know that writing an admissions essay is a step on the road toward a university acceptance letter. But some students neglect to give this essay the attention it deserves. The admissions essay gives college officials the opportunity to get to know a student in a personal way. For instance, sometimes, students are called upon to write about the biggest influence in their lives. A student’s description of this person can reveal a lot about their level of maturity and goals for the future. A sincere, well-written essay can play an important role in a student’s college acceptance.

A History of Community Service
Students are aware that college admissions officials take a close look at an applicant’s extracurricular activities. Officials like to see students who participate in activities that give them the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. They also appreciate students who serve their community. This may mean volunteering at a local homeless shelter or helping to collect food and clothing items for a local organization that provides hurricane relief. The length of participation in community service is something that college admissions officials look at as well.

Positive Items on Social Media
Today, many high school students have a lot of experience with social media. Chances are good that they have more than one account where they post photographs and communicate with friends. It’s not out of the question for admissions officials at a college to go online to look at an applicant’s communications via social media. Students who have questionable items on their social media pages may leave college admissions officials with the wrong impression. When it comes to college acceptance, information on the Internet can work either for or against an applicant. Students who are applying to college should make sure that all of the items they put on social media are appropriate.

At Veritas Prep, we provide students with a variety of services as they make their way toward college. We offer SAT and ACT prep courses taught by professional instructors who’ve mastered these tests. Also, we provide advice and tips to students regarding their college application. Our consultants worked in the admissions offices of some of the country’s best colleges. In short, we know what college admissions officials are looking for! Contact our offices today and let us know how we can help you on your journey toward higher education.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Canceling and Rescheduling Your GMAT Exam: What to Know Before You Cancel

FAQAfter signing up for the GMAT, you should dedicate two or three months to study and preparation. But as test day approaches, what if a situation arises that is going to prevent you from taking the test? Fortunately, it’s possible to cancel your GMAT test appointment and reschedule. Check out the important details that go along with canceling and rescheduling GMAT appointments before you act.

Common Reasons Why People Need to Cancel Their GMAT Appointments
Some people have to cancel their appointment to take the GMAT due to family obligations that come up – perhaps they have to attend a funeral or a family member unexpectedly goes into the hospital. Others cancel their test date because they don’t feel prepared to take the GMAT. These are just a few of the numerous reasons why people cancel. No matter the reason, there are steps to take when canceling your appointment that may help you minimize the cancellation fee you have to pay.

Steps to Take for GMAT Cancellation
The first step to take in the cancellation process is to go to the official GMAT website. When you signed up to take the GMAT, you opened an account that provides you with a lot of helpful information. You are able to cancel as well as reschedule GMAT appointments through your account.

The cost of taking the GMAT is $250 – if you cancel seven days or more before your scheduled test date and time, you’ll receive a refund of $80. However, if you cancel within seven days of your test day, you don’t receive any refund. Furthermore, if you’re a no-show on test day, you don’t get any type of refund. So if you decide not to take the GMAT, cancel early, if possible, in order to get at least some of your money back.

How to Reschedule Your Test
The process of rescheduling the GMAT is a lot like signing up for your original testing appointment. You have to choose the date, time, and location that are best for you. Since you already have an account on the official GMAT website, it takes a little less time to reschedule than it did to make the original appointment.

Details on the GMAT Reschedule Fee
Once again, timing plays an important role when you want to reschedule GMAT appointments. If you reschedule more than seven days before the original date for the test, then there is a GMAT reschedule fee of $50. However, if you reschedule within seven days of the original test date and time, there is a $250 fee. Note that you can’t reschedule within 24 hours of the test.

Ensuring That You’re Ready to Take the Test
If you cancel your GMAT appointment because you don’t feel prepared, there are things you can do to remedy the situation. At Veritas Prep, we have a GMAT curriculum that reveals what the creators of the test are really looking for. Of course, you must have knowledge of geometry, algebra, reading comprehension, and so forth, but you must also approach the test as if you were a business executive. In short, you have to use your higher-order thinking skills to tackle each section of the GMAT.

In our prep courses, we teach you to think like the test-maker so you will use the right kinds of skills on this challenging exam. Our thorough program of study covers each section and topic on the GMAT, enabling you to walk into the testing location with a sense of confidence on test day.

Practice With Seasoned GMAT Experts
As with most tests, it’s a smart idea to complete practice questions so you know what you’ll encounter on test day. Taking a practice GMAT can be daunting to someone who plans to prepare alone for this exam, but our instructors have achieved scores on the GMAT that place them in the 99th percentile. This means we can look at the results of your practice test and provide you with solid guidance on how you can improve in your weakest subjects. Our instructors know firsthand about the subtleties of the GMAT. Working with Veritas Prep means you get an inside scoop on what you need to do to achieve your best score.

We have a few instructional options for you to choose from when it comes to studying for the GMAT. You can learn the strategies you need to know either online or in person. Contact us today and let us play a part in your GMAT success!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

7 Quick Takeaways From the New 2016 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings

USnews!Hot off the presses, the much-awaited U.S. News & World Report college rankings have arrived for 2016, and in stunning news…well, there’s not much stunning news. Princeton hasn’t gone the way of ITT Tech (New Jersey’s Ivy remains #1 for the sixth straight year), and the biggest “out of nowhere” story is that Villanova, now ranked 50th for national universities, took that perch having been reclassified from a “regional university” in years prior.

Still, there are always interesting trends and takeaways to be had from the slow-changing, well-respected rankings. Here are seven that caught our team’s eye:

1) The Central (Time)-ization of Higher Ed.
The typical Harvard/Princeton/Yale top 3 was cracked by a school outside the Eastern time zone…and no, it wasn’t Stanford. The University of Chicago moved up from 4th to tie for 3rd (with Yale), moving the nation’s “medal podium” slightly west this year. This continues a big surge for U. Chicago in recent years, having moved up from as far back as 9th in 2010.

Another big mover was Rice, jumping from 18th to 15th. The sum? A total of 6 schools – U. Chicago, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Washington University St. Louis, and Vanderbilt – in the Central Time Zone made the Top 15. (Alas, those Central-timers celebrating the notion of having 40% of the Top 15 should be careful: because of ties, a total of 18 schools can consider themselves in the Top 15, as well.)

2) USC beats UCLA
In the rankings’ most dynamic intra-city rivalry, USC finally moved a step ahead of UCLA, staying at 23 while the Bruins dropped ever-so-slightly to 24th. Last year the rivals were locked at 23, whereas the previous year saw UCLA a spot head of USC.

The other major intra-city rivalries stayed static, with Harvard safely above MIT, U. Chicago safely over Northwestern, and Columbia comfortably ahead of NYU.

3) It’s Good to Be A Bostonian…
Boston University and Northeastern each cracked the Top 40 this year (tied at 39), bringing the number of Boston schools with that distinction to 7. Harvard and MIT stayed in their usual Top 10 places, with Tufts (27th), Boston College (31st), and Brandeis (34th) also staying in that Top 40.

4) …or an Upstate New Yorker
While Columbia leads the way for all New York-based schools at #5, four other New York schools make the Top 40, with three of them coming from upstate. Cornell, naturally, leads that group at #15, and both the University of Rochester (32nd) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (39th, in Troy), also earned that distinction.

5) The Public Option
With the exception of UC-Berkeley, each of the 22 schools with a Top 20 designation is a private school with a stated price tag of over $43,000. But once that list gets into the 20s, plenty of public schools with in-state tuition costs under $20,000 enter the mix: Berkeley, UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina all make the Top 30, with William & Mary, Georgia Tech, UC-Santa Barbara, and UC-Irvine ranking in the Top 40 at less than half the tuition cost of their private counterparts.

6) For Better Or Worse, Your Test Scores Will Matter
In the standard table view, the US News & World Report shows four statistics: tuition cost, undergraduate enrollment, SAT scores, and ACT scores (the range for the 25th percentile through the 75th percentile). And as you scan down the list, you’ll fisand that you have to get all the way to the 20th-ranked school (Emory) to find a middle 50% ACT range that isn’t entirely in the 30s (Emory’s is 29-33), and that only one of the top 15 schools (Dartmouth) has a middle 50% SAT range that includes scores below 1350.

As long as there are rankings that are based on quantitative data, standardized test scores will be a major way for schools to rise (or fall) in those rankings. It therefore follows that admissions officers will be looking for applicants whose stats can help them rise, so prospective students to highly-ranked schools should take their test preparation seriously.

7) Money Matters, Too
Seven of the Top 10 ranked schools are also in the U.S. News’ 2015 rankings for largest university endowments. When you see that Princeton has access to over $20 billion and Harvard holds over $36 billion, is it any wonder that these schools consistently top the U.S. university rankings? We’ll give a special shout out to Johns Hopkins, which managed its Top 10 ranking despite having “just” $3.4 billion in its coffers! Whether you think that’s puny or not, the fact is that all of these schools have the means to hire brilliant professors and give them access to world-class tools and facilities… Here’s hoping that they continue to invest in improving access to education and finding endless advances in all disciplines.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Scott Shrum and Brian Galvin.

Evaluating “Useful to Evaluate” Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomIn today’s post, we will look at how to answer “useful to evaluate” Critical Reasoning questions in the Verbal section of the GMAT. Arguably, this is one of the toughest question types for test-takers to tackle (perhaps right after boldfaced questions).

To answer this type of question, all you will need to do is follow these six simple steps:

1) Identify the conclusion.
2) Ask yourself the question raised by answer choice A.
3) Answer it with a “yes” and figure out whether it affects the conclusion.
4) Answer it with a “no” and figure out whether it affects the conclusion.
5) Repeat this for all other answer choices.
6) Only one option will affect the conclusion differently in the two cases – that is your answer.

Let’s illustrate this concept with a problem:

In a certain wildlife park, park rangers are able to track the movements of many rhinoceroses because those animals wear radio collars. When, as often happens, a collar slips off, it is put back on. Putting a collar on a rhinoceros involves immobilizing the animal by shooting it with a tranquilizer dart. Female rhinoceroses that have been frequently re-collared have significantly lower fertility rates than uncollared females. Probably, therefore, some substance in the tranquilizer inhibits fertility. 

In evaluating the argument, it would be most useful to determine which of the following? 

(A) Whether there are more collared female rhinoceroses than uncollared female rhinoceroses in the park. 
(B) How the tranquilizer that is used for immobilizing rhinoceroses differs, if at all, from tranquilizers used in working with other large mammals 
(C) How often park rangers need to use tranquilizer darts to immobilize rhinoceroses for reasons other than attaching radio collars 
(D) Whether male rhinoceroses in the wildlife park lose their collars any more often than the park’s female rhinoceroses do 
(E) Whether radio collars are the only practical means that park rangers have for tracking the movements of rhinoceroses in the park

First, we need to break down the argument to find the premises and the conclusion:

  • Many rhinoceroses wear radio collars.
  • Often, collars slip.
  • When a collar slips, the animal is shot with a tranquilizer to re-collar.
  • The fertility of frequently re-collared females is less than the fertility of uncollared females.
  • Conclusion: Some substance in the tranquilizer inhibits fertility.

Let’s take a look at each answer choice:

(A) Whether there are more collared female rhinoceroses than uncollared female rhinoceroses in the park.

Even if there are more collared female rhinoceroses than uncollared females, this does not affect the argument’s conclusion. This answer choice talks about collared females vs. uncollared females; we are comparing the fertility of re-collared females with that of uncollared females. Anyway, how many of either type there are doesn’t matter. So, whether you answer “yes” or “no” to this question, it is immaterial.

(B) How the tranquilizer that is used for immobilizing rhinoceroses differs, if at all, from tranquilizers used in working with other large mammals.

This option is comparing the tranquilizers used for rhinoceroses with the tranquilizers used for other large mammals. What the conclusion does, however, is compare collared female rhinoceroses with uncollared female rhinoceroses. Hence, whether you answer “very different” or “not different at all” to this question, in the end, it doesn’t matter.

(C) How often park rangers need to use tranquilizer darts to immobilize rhinoceroses for reasons other than attaching radio collars.

This answer choice can be evaluated in two ways:

  • Very Often – Tranquilizers are used very often for uncollared females, too. In this case, can we still say that “tranquilizers inhibit fertility”? No! If they did, fertility in uncollared females would have been low, too.
  • Rarely – This would strengthen our conclusion. If tranquilizers are not used on uncollared females, it is possible that something in these tranquilizers inhibits fertility.

(D) Whether male rhinoceroses in the wildlife park lose their collars any more often than the park’s female rhinoceroses do.

This answer choice is comparing the frequency of tranquilizers used on male rhinoceroses with the frequency of tranquilizers used on female rhinoceroses. What the conclusion actually does is compare collared female rhinoceroses with uncollared female rhinoceroses. Hence, whether you answer this question with “more frequently” or “not more frequently,” it doesn’t matter.

(E) Whether radio collars are the only practical means that park rangers have for tracking the movements of rhinoceroses in the park.

This option is comparing radio collars with other means of tracking. What the conclusion does is compare collared female rhinoceroses with uncollared female rhinoceroses. Hence, whether you answer this question with “there are other means” or “there are no other means,” again, it does not matter.

Note that only answer choice C affects the conclusion – if you answer the question it raises differently, it affects the conclusion differently. Option C would be good to know to evaluate the conclusion of the argument, therefore, the answer must be C.

Now try this question on your own:

Following several years of declining advertising sales, the Greenville Times reorganized its advertising sales force two years ago. Before the reorganization, the sales force was organized geographically, with some sales representatives concentrating on city-center businesses and others concentrating on different outlying regions. The reorganization attempted to increase the sales representatives’ knowledge of clients’ businesses by having each sales representative deal with only one type of industry or of retailing. After the reorganization, advertising sales increased. 

In assessing whether the improvement in advertising sales can properly be attributed to the reorganization, it would be helpful to find out each of the following EXCEPT:

(A) Two years ago, what proportion of the Greenville Times’ total revenue was generated by advertising sales?
(B) Has the circulation of the Greenville Times increased substantially in the last two years?
(C) Has there been a substantial turnover in personnel in the advertising sales force over the last two years?
(D) Before the reorganization, had sales representatives found it difficult to keep up with relevant developments in all types of businesses to which they are assigned?
(E) Has the economy in Greenville and the surrounding regions been growing rapidly over the last two years?

We hope you will find this post useful to evaluate the “useful to evaluate” questions!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: Gary Johnson, Aleppo, and What To Do When Your Mind Goes Blank

GMAT Tip of the WeekArguably the biggest news story this week was presidential hopeful Gary Johnson’s reply to a foreign policy question. “What is Aleppo?” is what Johnson responded, his mind evidently blanking on the epicenter of Syrian civil war and its resulting refugee crisis. And regardless of your opinion of Johnson’s fitness to be the architect of American foreign policy, there’s one major lesson there for your GMAT aspirations:

In pressure situations, it’s not uncommon for your brain to fail you as you “blank” on a concept you know (or should know). So it’s important to have strategies ready for that moment that very well may come to you. To paraphrase the Morning Joe question to Johnson:

What would you do about “Aleppo?”

Meaning: what would you do if your mind were to go blank on an important GMAT rule or formula?

There are four major strategies that should be in your toolkit for such a situation:

1) Test Small Numbers
You should absolutely know formulas like exponent rules or relationships like that between dividend, divisor, and remainder in division, but sometimes your mind just goes blank. In those cases, remember that math rules are logically-derived, not arbitrarily ordained! Math rules will hold for all possible values, so if you’re unsure, test numbers. For example, if you’re forced to solve something like:

(x^15)(x^9) =

And you’ve blanked on what to do with exponents, try testing small numbers like (2^2)(2^3). Here, that’s (4)(8) = 32, which is 2^5. So if you’re unsure, “Do I add or multiply the exponents?” you should see from the small example that you definitely don’t multiply, and that your hunch that, “Maybe I add?” works in this case, so you can more confidently make that decision.

Similarly, if a problem asked:

When integer y is divided by integer z, the quotient is equal to x. Which of the following represents the remainder in terms of x, y, and z?

(A) x – yz
(B) zy – x
(C) y – zx
(D) zy – x
(E) zx – y

Many students memorize equations to organize dividend, divisor, quotient, and remainder, but in the fog of war on test day it can even be difficult to remember which element of the division problem is the dividend (it’s the number you start with) and which is the divisor (it’s the one you divide by). So if your mind has blanked on any part of the equation or on which element is which, just test it with small numbers to remind yourself how the concept works:

11 divided by 4 is 2 with a remainder of 3. How do you get to the remainder? You take the 11 you started with and subtract the 8 that you get from taking the divisor of 4 and multiplying it by the quotient of 2. So the answer is y (what you started with) minus zx (the divisor times the quotient), or answer choice C.

Simply put, if you blank on a rule or concept, you can test small numbers to remind yourself how it works.

2) Use Process of Elimination and Work Backwards From the Answer Choices
One beautiful thing about the GMAT is that, while in “the real world” if you need to know the Pythagorean Theorem and blank on it, you’re out of luck (well, unless you have a Google-enabled Smartphone in your pocket which you almost certainly do…), on the GMAT you have answer choices as assets. So if your own work stalls in progress, you can look to the answer choices to eliminate options you know for sure you wouldn’t get with that math:

What is x^5 + x^6? You know you don’t add or multiply those exponents, so even if you don’t see to factor out the common x^5, you could eliminate answer choices like x^11 and x^30.

Or you can look to the answer choices to see if they help you determine how you’d apply a rule. For example, if a problem forces you to employ the side ratios for a 45-45-90 triangle and you’ve forgotten them, the presence of some square roots of 2 in the answer choices can help you remember. The square root of 2 is greater than 1, and two sides must match, so if someone spots you “the rule includes a square root of 2” the only thing it can really be is the ratio x : x : x(√2)

Gary Johnson should have been so lucky – had the question been posed as, “What would you do about Aleppo, which is either a DJ on the new Drake album; the epicenter of the Syrian crisis; or a new restaurant in the Garment District?” he would get that question right every single time. Answer choices are your friends…when you blank, consult them!

3) Think Logically
Similar to that 45-45-90 “what else could it be?” logic, many times when you blank on a rule, you can work your way to either the rule itself or just to the answer by thinking logically about it. For example, if you end up with math that includes a radical sign in the denominator and can’t quite remember the steps for rationalizing the denominator:

What is 1/(1 – √2)?

(A) √2
(B) 1 – √2
(C) 1 + √2
(D) -1 – √2
(E) √2 – 1

Not all is lost! Sure, algebraically you should multiply the numerator and the denominator by the conjugate (1 + 2) but you can also logically work with this one. The numerator is 1, and the denominator is 1 – the square root of 2. You know that 2 is between 1 and 2, so what do you know about the denominator? It’s negative, and it’s a fraction (or decimal), so once you’ve taken 1 divided by that, your answer must be a negative number to the left of -1 – only answer choice D would work. So, yeah, you blanked on the steps, but you can still employ logic to back into the answer.

4) Write Down Everything You Know
Blanking is particularly troublesome because it’s that moment of panic. You’re trying to retrace your mental steps and the answer is elusive; it’s a moment you’re not in control of at that point. So take control! The more you’re actively working – jotting down other related formulas or facts you know, working on other facets of the diagram or problem and saving that step for last, etc. – the more you’re controlling, or at least actively managing, the situation.

Gary Johnson couldn’t get away with a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” style talk-through-it (“Um, I know it’s not the name of any congressmen; it’s not Zika, it’s not…”) without looking dumb, but no one is going to audit your scratchwork and release it to Huffington Post, so you’re free to jot down half-baked thoughts and trial calculations to your heart’s content. Actively manage the situation, and you can work your way through that dreaded “my mind is blank” moment.

So learn from Gary Johnson. No matter how much you’ve prepared for your GMAT, there’s a chance that your mind will go blank on something you know that you know, but just can’t recall in the moment. But you have options, so heed the wisdom above, and let Trump or Clinton handle the gaffes for the day while you move on confidently to the next question.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

Medical Activities for High School Students Interested in Medical School

stethescopeHigh school students who want to go to medical school can start working toward that goal by participating in extracurricular activities within the medical field. These types of extracurricular activities can give high school students a closer look at various specialties within the medical profession. Plus, students can use these extracurricular activities to help them gain acceptance into a preferred college.

Consider a few examples of medical activities for high school students who are interested in going to med school:

Volunteer at a Hospital
Becoming a volunteer at a hospital is one of the most interesting medical activities for high school students to pursue. There are many different departments in a hospital that need volunteers. For example, a high school student can work at the information desk in the main lobby of a hospital, directing people to the rooms of family members and answering questions of visitors. This is a great way to observe the day-to-day operations of a hospital.

Or a high school student could perform clerical work. This may include putting medical files away, entering patient information into a computer, or answering telephones. A high school student doing clerical work would get to see the behind-the-scenes activities necessary to keep a hospital running.

Hospital volunteers also help deliver meals to patients, transport patients to different departments, and distribute magazines as well as other reading material. All of these tasks would give a high school student valuable experience working in a hospital setting. Students must be ready to dedicate several hours a week to this volunteer activity in order to learn as much as possible.

Volunteer on an Ambulance
Working as a volunteer on an ambulance is another example of an extracurricular for medical school. Volunteers assist the emergency medical service workers on runs to homes and businesses. This type of volunteer work gives students experience dealing with emergency situations and teaches them how to treat various injuries. Also, it gives a high school student the chance to see the treatment of a patient before they reach the hospital. This would be an appealing option for a high school student interested in becoming a medical professional working in an emergency room.

Shadow a Doctor
When it comes to extracurricular activities for medical school, shadowing a doctor is an excellent choice for a mature high school student. Of course, a student must get the permission of a doctor and set up a suitable schedule. Shadowing a doctor gives a student the opportunity to witness interactions between the doctor and their patients. Also, the doctor can fill the student in on what is written on an examination sheet, how to diagnose certain ailments, and how to go about answering a patient’s questions.

Shadowing a doctor for a long period of time serves as an impressive extracurricular for medical school. In addition, the student may want to ask the doctor for a letter of recommendation to submit with a college application. A glowing letter from a doctor can carry a lot of weight with college admissions officials.

Work in a Doctor’s Office
One of the most useful extracurricular activities for medical school is working in a doctor’s office as a volunteer assistant. A high school student in this position may help with a number of different tasks. For instance, the student may assist with clerical work, direct patients to examination rooms, or take basic information from patients under the guidance of a nurse. A student gets to see the teamwork it takes to keep a doctor’s office operating in an efficient way. This is one of those medical school extracurriculars that conveys a student’s interest in learning about all aspects of a doctor’s office.

At Veritas Prep, our experienced consultants advise students on every part of their college application – this includes evaluating a student’s medical school extracurriculars to determine which ones to highlight for admissions officials.

We also guide students as they study for the SAT and for the ACT. Our instructors review practice test results with students to create an efficient study plan, as we know that these test scores play a critical role in a student’s path toward medical school. Our SAT and ACT prep courses are available both in person and online so students can get all of the study time they need to ace the test. Contact Veritas Prep today!

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How Does Diversity Play Into MBA Admissions?

AdmissionDiversity has become a buzzword throughout the business world, however one place where its potential has not been fully realized is in the classrooms of some of the top MBA programs in the world. In this way, many business schools struggle to emulate the markets to which they send graduates to.

We can all agree diversity in the workplace and in the classroom make for a more rewarding experience for all. Let’s discuss how diversity can manifest itself during the MBA application process:

Ethnic Diversity:
In the United States, this is one of the most important and severely-lacking forms of diversity in top MBA programs. Underrepresented minorities – such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans – in the U.S. still represent tiny portions of most schools’ incoming classes.

Many blue chip companies rely on MBA programs to serve as feeders for their talent, and if MBA programs remain barren of diverse candidates, then top companies will also struggle in this department. Given this need, qualified, underrepresented minorities really can stand out in the application process if they package together the “right” application.

Gender Diversity:
Business schools have made remarkable strides when it comes to gender diversity. MBA programs have historically been a “boys club,” but most programs have narrowed the gap here and come closer to the desired 50/50 gender ratio. This year, Northwestern’s Kellogg School even reported a record 43% of female MBA students in their Class of 2018. Even with these improvements, women still remain a minority of sorts, which can prove advantageous in the application process.

International Diversity:
The business world has become truly global – a shift that most programs have tried to mirror. The business school campus of today can take on the look of the United Nations, itself. The array of experience and thought this diversity brings to the classroom can help shape a class set out to become the global leaders of tomorrow. Remember, there are certain regions of the world that are underrepresented and others that are over-represented, so international diversity can go both ways when it comes to admissions.

With the holistic nature of the MBA admissions process, diversity can play a huge role in shaping the student community for the incoming class. This diversity of thought, perspective, and experience is certainly a hallmark of the MBA experience.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Three Expensive Things Worth Buying (Even on a College Budget)

featured_money@wdd2xNo matter how you’re financing your college education—through scholarships, savings, working, loans, etc.—your college budget is likely to be tight.

I had generous scholarships and a reasonable pile of savings helping me through my four undergraduate years, but even then I spent plenty of time counting coins at the supermarket, dragging my laundry home to avoid the dorm machine costs, and making up excuses to avoid eating out with friends or colleagues at restaurants out of my budget (ordering the smallest and cheapest dishes said restaurants had whenever I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse).

In some ways, four years of penny-pinching paid off: I graduated in a more financially secure position than I’d expected to, never had to take out a student loan, and avoided burdening my family with high college costs. However, I also learned the hard way that there are some things worth splurging on.

I know that college student budgets vary widely, and that sometimes it’s just not possible to spend money on the arguably luxury items in this list – whenever the funds can be safely afforded, however, I highly, highly recommend investing in the following three things:

1) A Good Mattress
This may not be an option if you live in a dorm, but if you’re buying your own bed to use throughout college, this is a must (and even if your school does provide you with a mattress, a good mattress topper is just as helpful). Even though I could have spared just enough money to buy a mattress with adequate support, I ended up with some nasty shoulder and lower-back pain because I spent far too long on a thin, flimsy bit of foam that thinned to nothing within four months of regular use (even though I’m a relatively small person; I heard plenty worse from my larger friends).

Today, two awful dorm bed mattresses later, I’m working on hammering out the kinks in my shoulder with a massage therapist who charges $85 per hour. And I’m not alone – I know others who picked up lifelong back problems just from a year or two on a bad college mattress. Pay for the mattress now to avoid paying for your health later.

2) Fresh, Healthy Food
Meal plans and junk food are tempting and (often) cheaper than the healthier options, but your body and your mind will thank you throughout and after college if you choose fresh produce over instant ramen. Healthy food improves your academic performance, keeps you energized, and boosts your mood, which makes you both a better student and a generally happier person. Pay for real nourishment to get the most out of the money you’re spending on your education.

3) Study Abroad
This is by far the most expensive item on this list, but it deserves to be included because study abroad is an incredible supplement to your college education. Study abroad programs allow you to expand your horizons and gain new perspectives through travel and exposure to new places and people. Classes help you meet types of people you’ve never met before; program and university affiliation provide a safety net (health insurance, counseling resources, emergency loans, and other benefits) to reduce the risks that may come with spending a lot of time in an unfamiliar place; and financial aid and scholarships are available to ease the financial burden.

Studying abroad is especially worth the money because it’s something you can only do while in school. The opportunity to spend an entire semester or year exploring a new world, especially with a program and an academic structure to keep you safe and help you integrate, is rare and precious and should be seized.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Simplify Complicated Combination and Permutation Questions on the GMAT

GMATWhen test-takers first learn how to tackle combination and permutation questions, there’s typically a moment of euphoria when the proper approach really clicks.

If, for example, there are 10 people in a class, and you wish to find the number of ways you can form a cabinet consisting of a president, a vice president, and a treasurer, all you need to do is recognize that if you have 10 options for the president, you’ll have 9 left for the vice president, and 8 remaining for the treasurer, and the answer is 10*9*8. Easy, right?

But on the GMAT, as in life, anything that seems too good to be true probably is. An easy question can be tackled with the type of mechanical thinking illustrated above. A harder question will require a more sophisticated approach in which we consider disparate scenarios and perform calculations for each.

Take this question, for example:

Of the three-digit positive integers whose three digits are all different and nonzero, how many are odd integers greater than 700?

A) 84
B) 91
C) 100
D) 105
E) 243

It’s natural to see this problem and think, “All I have to do is reason out how many options I have for each digit. So for the hundreds digit, I have 3 options (7, 8, or 9); the tens digit has to be different from the hundreds digit, and it must be non-zero, so I’ll have 8 options here; then the last digit has to be odd, so…”

Here’s where the trouble starts. The number of eligible numbers in the 700’s will not be the same as the number of eligible numbers in the 800’s -if the digits must all be different, then a number in the 700’s can’t end in 7, but a number in the 800’s could. So, we need to break this problem into separate cases:

First Case: Numbers in the 700’s  
If we’re dealing with numbers in the 700’s, then we’re calculating how many ways we can select a tens digit and a units digit. 7___ ___.

Let’s start with the units digit. Well, we know that this number needs to be odd. And we know that it must be different from the hundreds and the tens digits. This leaves us the following options, as we’ve already used 7 for the hundreds digit: 1, 3, 5, 9. So there are 4 options remaining for the units digit.

Now the tens digit must be a non-zero number that’s different from the hundreds and units digit. There are 9 non-zero digits. We’re using one of those for the hundreds place and one of those for the units place, leaving us 7 options remaining for the tens digit. If there are 4 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, there are 4*7 = 28 options in the 700’s.

Second Case: Numbers in the 800’s
Same logic: 8 ___ ___. Again, this number must be odd, but now we have 5 options for the units digit, as every odd number will obviously be different from the hundreds digit, which is even (1, 3, 5, 7, or 9). The tens digit logic is the same – 9 non-zero digits total, but it must be different from the hundreds and the units digit, leaving us 7 options remaining. If there are 5 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, there are 5*7 = 35 options in the 800’s.

Third Case: Numbers in the 900’s
This calculation will be identical to the 700’s scenario: 9___ ___. For the units digit, we want an odd number that is different from the hundreds digit, giving us (1, 3, 5, 7), or 4 options. We’ll have 7 options again for the tens digit, for the same reasons that we’ll have 7 options for the tens digit in our other cases. If there are 4 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, then there are 4*7 = 28 options in the 900’s.

To summarize, there are 28 options in the 700’s, 35 options in the 800’s, and 28 options in the 900’s. 28 + 35 + 28 = 91. Therefore, B is the correct answer.

Takeaway: for a simpler permutation question, it’s fine to simply set up your slots and multiply. For a more complicated problem, we’ll need to work case-by-case, bearing in mind that each individual case is, on its own, actually not nearly as hard as it looks, sort of like the GMAT itself.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Understanding the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Scoring

Integrated Reasoning GMATThe Integrated Reasoning section is one of four that make up the GMAT. The questions in this section are useful in gauging an individual’s evaluation and problem-solving skills. These are some of the same skills used by business professionals on a daily basis. The GMAT Integrated Reasoning scoring system is different than the scoring on other parts of the exam.

Consider some information that can improve your understanding of the scoring process for the Integrated Reasoning section:

Profile of the Integrated Reasoning Section on the GMAT
Before learning about GMAT Integrated Reasoning scoring, it’s a good idea to know a little about the questions you’ll encounter in this section. These questions ask you to examine various charts, diagrams, and tables. You then need to evaluate, organize, and synthesize the data to answer questions. It’s important to filter the essential data from the non-essential data.

There are 12 questions in this section, and each one has several parts. The four types of questions featured in the Integrated Reasoning section are Two-Part Analysis, Multi-Source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, and Table Analysis. In this section, the order and difficulty of the questions is random.

One of the best ways to prep for the Integrated Reasoning section as well as all of the others on the GMAT is to take a practice exam. At Veritas Prep, you can see how your skills stack up in each section by taking our free GMAT practice test. We also provide you with a score report and performance analysis to make your study time all the more efficient!

Scoring on the Integrated Reasoning Section
When it comes to the GMAT section on Integrated Reasoning, scoring comes in the form of single-digits – the scores for this section range from one to eight. You receive a raw score that is given a percentile ranking. The score you receive for the Integrated Reasoning section doesn’t affect your total score for other sections on the GMAT. (Note that you won’t be able to see your Integrated Reasoning score on the unofficial score report that is shown to test-takers immediately after the GMAT is complete.) You will find out your Integrated Reasoning score in 20 days or so, when your official score report is delivered to you.

Considerations for Integrated Reasoning Questions
There are some pieces of information that can prove helpful to you as you tackle the Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT. For instance, you can’t earn partial credit for these questions. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to all parts of each question. Furthermore, you can’t answer just part of a question and click forward to the next question. And after answering an Integrated Reasoning question, you won’t be able to go back and rethink an answer. These are things to keep in mind to avoid making preventable errors in this section.

Preparing for the Integrated Reasoning Section
For the section on Integrated Reasoning, scoring is a little different than it is on the rest of the test, but it’s just as important to excel here as on the other sections. The effective curriculum of our GMAT prep courses can supply you with the mental resources you need to master the Integrated Reasoning section along with every other section on the exam.

Veritas Prep instructors are ideally suited to prepare you for the GMAT, since each of them earned a score on the GMAT that put them in the 99th percentile. Our professional tutors understand that you have to think like the Testmaker in order to master every part of the exam. In addition to being knowledgeable and experienced, our instructors are experts at offering lots of encouragement to their students.

On top of providing you with first-rate prep for the GMAT, we also offer you options when it comes to how you study. We have both online and in-person classes designed to suit your busy schedule – we know that many people who take the GMAT also have full-time careers. Be sure to take advantage of Veritas Prep’s other valuable services, such as our live homework help, available seven days a week. This means you never have to wait to get your questions answered! Contact our offices today to get started on your GMAT studies.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

MBA Essays: Optimizing Content to Make You Stand Out

writing essayBusiness school candidates are often asked to reflect on the most special moments of their lives as they write their application essays. However, prompts that ask for this are so open – they allow applicants to discuss any aspect of their lives, from the very personal to more typical career highlights – it is often difficult to know where to start. Follow these tips to make sure your MBA essays truly stand out:

Use the Space for More Unique Highlights
Reflecting honestly, some candidates may identify the birth of their children (if they have them) as the most special events in their lives. For example, an applicant may feel that overcoming a challenging pregnancy or mentoring his or her child is their most important moment – like most parents, I agree that these can be the most significant, fulfilling, and life-changing events a person can experience.

However, even if it is not explicitly stated, there is also a need in your business school applications to show what sets you apart from other candidates – what unique dimensions you can bring to the program. Thus, while parenthood is a great blessing and a primary aspect of life for many, it is not a great differentiator for one’s MBA applications. With such limited space available to write your essays, your parenthood can be mentioned briefly as a source of motivation and purpose for pursuing your MBA, but should probably not be the main focal point of your essay.

Remember to also keep your answers to essay questions concise. For example, you may share how you saved your family’s business during one part of your application, and play up your sense of responsibility as a major strength during another section of the application, however sharing the former should have already done the job of covering both points. You can then use the second space to display your other impressive strengths.

Being concise in your essays will allow you to cover more ground, share more of your personality, and add more dimensions to your application. You would be better off highlighting another, different strength than writing about a strength that could have been covered in an earlier narrative.

Add Just the Right Level of Detail
Although you should definitely use your MBA essays to touch on your motivations and inspiration for attending business school, and share other exciting activities that you participate in, remember that allocating 200 words to specifics such as a detailed medical procedure or your philosophies about parenting is not ideal. Briefly mentioning these details in passing can tie the theme of your essay together and give it a nice flow, but dwelling too long on them can jumble your message and confuse the reader.

Similarly, playing up only one general strength (such as your physical prowess) through a whole paragraph could come off negatively and make it seem like you do not have much else to offer. Allocating too much space for one strength comes with the opportunity cost of not being able to present your other strengths and aspects of personal development to the Admissions Committee. In contrast, sharing an unexpected range of talents and interests will be more exciting and win over a broader type of audience.

Remember to Be Real
Finally, as you choose your essay content, be sure that you choose meaningful events and real challenges that you have faced. Stay away from token failures and weaknesses – for instance, identifying losing a game at a party would seem silly to mention during your essays, and writing about it could actually make you come off as insincere. Use the space you are allotted to show your ability to honestly evaluate yourself, identify the next steps in your development, and recognize how an MBA will fit into your career plans.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.